TSTC leads in sustainability earning a LEED Gold Award

BY Amanda Sotelo

Texas State Technical College was recently honored with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Award for interior renovations completed in what is now the Health Information Technology building, bringing to four the number of green building awards the college has received.

TSTC, SpawGlass Contractors Inc. and PBK Architects, worked on the project and showed its commitment to green building and sustainability by using recycled woods and installing energy efficient features.

“This is a big honor for our campus and it’s all thanks to the support and optimism we received from our administration and everyone who worked on this project,” said TSTC Engineering Department Project Manager Adan Alvarez.

The Health Information Technology Building is the third building on campus to earn a LEED Gold Award, but the fourth building to receive a LEED honor. The first two LEED Gold Awards were given to the TSTC University Center and the Engineering Technology Center. The third LEED Award was silver and went to the Student Services building.

Cliff Whittingstall, partner at PBK Architects, the firm which completed drawings and design for Building D, said they were very excited to hear about the award.

“We’re honored to have been a part of this project and working with a college that has a strong belief in LEED,” he said. “TSTC has done a great job at making the campus sustainable.”

PBK Architects Sustainability Specialist Robert Bruce said that using an existing building and recycled materials, which was done for this renovation, is the ultimate way to show sustainability efforts.

“The main sustainable feature of the project was the reclaimed wood we worked hard to incorporate throughout the building,” said Bruce. “We believe so strongly in LEED and sustainability, and giving a building a new life and character that will last a long time while having a minimal impact on the carbon footprint of our planet.”

Alvarez said in addition to the reclaimed wood from the old military barracks that dotted the campus built on a former military base, TSTC earned the gold award because of the design used for the renovation and other materials such as asbestos free elements, LED lighting systems, new and more efficient air conditioning units, recycled doors and door frames and an open-ceiling structure.

“We’re a technical college that teaches sustainability, so earning these awards allows us to talk the talk and walk the walk,” he said. “By receiving these certifications and awards we show we’re doing our part for the environment and becoming a symbol for green building.”

SpawGlass Contractors Inc. South Texas Division President Eric Kennedy said they work with clients like TSTC that are placing an effort on sustainability and earning LEED certifications, in making sure that all construction meets LEED expectations and standards.

“We consider ourselves partners with TSTC and this award is a great team effort,” said Kennedy. “We’ve done a lot of work for TSTC in the past and we’re glad to have had the opportunity of being a part of this award-winning, energy-efficient, LEED-certified building.”

The TSTC campus in Harlingen is the only campus in the TSTC System to have LEED-certified buildings, and has the most LEED-certified buildings among higher education institutions in its region.

The recently renovated TSTC Nursing Center is the fifth building to be on track for a LEED Certification, and the campus’ new chiller plant is also designed to be energy efficient and meet LEED standards.