Iconic Ayres Hall Receives LEED Certification

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Ayres HallThe most iconic building on the UT Knoxville campus is now officially its greenest.

Ayres Hall has become the first building on campus to become LEED-certified—at the silver level—by the US Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Building Institute. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the nation’s preeminent program for design, construction, and operation of high-performance buildings.

Ayres, one of the campus’s oldest buildings, reopened in January 2011 following an extensive two-year renovation that brought the 1921 structure into the twenty-first century. The $23 million project maintained the original grandeur of the building and enhanced energy efficiency. The green makeover resulted in a LEED Silver certification.

“We are quite proud of the LEED Silver certification for Ayres Hall,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “Along with being our most recognizable facility, Ayres now exemplifies our commitment to sustainable campus and building practices.”

Cheek said that many members of the UT community appreciate the careful restoration and its beautiful result. He noted that spending more time and resources on green building practices pays off tremendously over time through saving on energy costs and lessening the impact on the environment.

There are four levels of LEED certification: certified, silver, gold, and platinum. A building’s level of certification is based on a point scale that grades various aspects of a building project, including sustainability of the building site, water efficiency, energy use, materials and resources, and innovation and design.

The Ayres project maintained nearly 97 percent of the existing wall, floor, and roof elements of the building. The original hard wood floors, wooden doors, and wood paneling in the building were refinished and reinstalled. Other green building practices included:

  • Low-flow toilets were installed in bathrooms.
  • Replacement windows were removed and replaced with historically appropriate and energy-efficient windows.
  • Terrazzo in the corridors and halls was repaired and replenished.
  • Existing baseboards and wood trim around windows and doors were restored and reinstalled.
  • Original slate chalkboards—replaced with new technology and glass boards in classrooms—were refurbished and reinstalled in professors’ offices and in student common areas for collaborative work.
  • Some original lighting fixtures were upgraded for efficiency, while new energy-efficient lighting also was added. Lights in classrooms and offices run on sensors and turn on and off as people move through rooms.
  • Marble reclaimed from bathroom partitions was used to complete areas where an elevator was relocated.
  • The clay tile roof was removed and re-installed in order to make it watertight and to restructure the attic to allow mechanical equipment to be hidden from view.

Students especially appreciate the building’s central heating and air conditioning. Only window units existed before the renovation, giving Ayres a reputation for being one of the hottest—or coldest, depending on the season—buildings on campus. The fourth floor, which was previously closed for nearly thirty years, is now home to a popular study lounge for students.

The 88,256-square-foot building has ten classrooms, three conference rooms, and two specialized classrooms for the Department of Mathematics. The firms Ross/Fowler and Weeks, Ambrose, McDonald Inc. were the architects on the project. The contractors were Southern Contractors and Johnson and Galyon.

Three other UT buildings have received LEED certification. The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences received LEED Silver certification in May 2005. The Joint Institute for Neutron Sciences received LEED certification in November 2011. Both facilities are located on the Oak Ridge National Laboratory campus in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The New Norris House, an award-winning home developed by students and faculty in the College of Architecture and Design, received LEED Platinum certification in May 2012. The house is located in Norris, Tennessee.

UT’s Master Plan incorporates sustainable design and building into new and renovated buildings and focuses on adding more open green space and walkways to make the campus more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.

UT adopted a new building policy in 2007 to make green building the standard for new construction and renovation projects exceeding $5 million. The US Green Building Council is reviewing the new Student Health Building and the Min H. Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building, both of which opened in 2011.

C O N T A C T :

Rebekah WInkler (865-974-8304, rwinkler@utk.edu)

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