The new Cebula Hall is the third-highest LEED certification in the Western Hemisphere

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Saint Martin's University 'takes the LEED' on sustainable buildings in the Western Hemisphere

Cebula Hall is world's third-highest LEED-certified structure

Saint Martin’s University has reason to celebrate: It is now home to the highest-rated LEED-certified building in the Western Hemisphere.

Fr. Richard Cebula, O.S.B. Hall, which houses the Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering on the University’s Lacey campus, recently earned the top honor when it was granted LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Certification, the premier level of certification, by the U.S. Green Building Council. As part of the certification process, Cebula Hall was awarded 97 out of 110 possible LEED points, securing the highest rating of any newly constructed LEED-certified building in the hemisphere.

With this rating, Cebula Hall claims third place among all LEED-NC c2009 (newly constructed) buildings worldwide.

Remarkably, the construction cost of the building was $225 per square foot, dispelling the notion that LEED Platinum buildings cost 15 percent or more than similar, non-sustainable buildings. On college campuses, construction costs for non-LEED-oriented laboratory buildings typically start around $275 to $400 per square foot, and go up — sometimes significantly — from there, according to Marc Gleason of Tacoma-based McGranahan Architects, the architectural firm that designed Cebula Hall.

“Cebula Hall is living proof that the implementation of green building techniques can be very economical,” says Joseph Bettridge, P.E., vice president and director of engineering at Sunset Air Inc., who was project executive during construction of the three-story structure. “It doesn’t take a lot of ‘green’ to be green — just smarter choices and the commitment to optimize the design for the maximum benefit at the lowest cost. Congratulations to Saint Martin’s University for creating an affordable template for future projects that will employ green building techniques.”

LEED is an internationally recognized green building program, and LEED certification is a prestigious dedication for buildings with structural features that demonstrate environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Cebula Hall met the most stringent LEED requirements, gaining Platinum status, with the oversight of Sunset Air’s Ryan Cuoio, P.E., LEED A.P., who ensured adherence to LEED standards throughout design and construction process.

Innovative features of Cebula Hall include: a geothermal ground loop, coupled to water-source heat pumps and in-floor radiant heat; systems and structures that are exposed, offering visitors a clear view of their operations; energy-efficient fixtures and equipment that reduce water usage by 48 percent; a large roof-top solar panel system that allows students to study tracking devices, solar orientation and the production of solar energy; a rain garden; and a photovoltaic array that produces more than 15 percent of the building’s power and also provides power back to the electrical grid.

All energy usage for Cebula Hall is tracked in real time through an interactive, online building dashboard at

“The University’s goal from the beginning was to earn LEED Platinum Certification for our new engineering facility, which we designed to be a teaching and learning tool, inside and out,” explains University President Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D. “Stewardship is one of the values inherent to our Catholic, Benedictine philosophy of education, so it is especially meaningful to the Saint Martin’s community to be recognized as a leader in sustainability.”

“A spirit of responsibility drove the Cebula Hall project forward,” Heynderickx adds. “As we began planning the structure, we committed ourselves to being conscientious stewards of both the environment and the funds raised for the building.”

McGranahan Architects’ Michael D. Slater, who acted as architectural project manager for Cebula Hall and currently serves as president-elect of the American Institute of Architects’ Washington Council, calls Saint Martin’s decision to pursue LEED Platinum status “phenomenal.” Says Slater, “Any time you have a private university going for a Platinum rating, that in itself is extraordinary because they are not required to meet any LEED requirement, at all.”

Zella Kahn-Jetter, Ph.D., P.E., dean of The Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering, notes that buildings represent the largest consumer of energy in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the buildings sector accounted for about 41 percent of primary energy consumption in 2010.

“With this wonderful facility, we are showing our students that they can be outstanding engineers and, at the same time, they can leave the world a better place than the one they came into,” says Kahn-Jetter. “This is the kind of engineer Saint Martin’s University aims to create.”

Kahn-Jetter describes Cebula Hall as a learning environment that is “second to none — a high-tech building that functions as an interactive laboratory, designed with learning in mind.”

Named for Fr. Richard Cebula, O.S.B., the late Benedictine priest who is considered the “father” of the Saint Martin’s engineering program, Cebula Hall was built with an eye toward dynamic teaching and learning, not only for students and faculty, but for practicing engineers and the public. It opened for classes in January and was formally dedicated on Earth Day, April 22, 2013.

The building is the centerpiece of the University’s Engineering Initiative, which was launched in 2011 and has since focused on enhancing the Saint Martin’s engineering program, strengthening the program’s endowment, and constructing an environmentally innovative engineering building as well as a new laboratory facility.

Having more than doubled the space of the previous engineering building, Cebula Hall has increased the University’s capacity to accept growing numbers of qualified engineering students. The highly respected 65-year-old engineering program at Saint Martin’s offers undergraduate degrees in civil engineering and mechanical engineering, and graduate degrees in civil engineering, engineering management and mechanical engineering.

The design and construction team for Cebula Hall included: McGranahan Architects (Tacoma, WA); Forma Construction, formerly Berschauer Phillips Construction Company (Olympia, WA); Sunset Air (Lacey, WA); PCS Structural Solutions (Tacoma, WA); SCJ Alliance (Olympia, WA); Taurus Industries, Inc. (Olympia, WA); and Robert W. Droll, Landscape Architect (Lacey, WA).