SWIRLL building attains LEED certification status

SWIRLL building

Completed in 2014, UAH’s Severe Weather Institute – Radar and Lightning Laboratories (SWIRLL) building recently attained LEED silver certification.

Michael Mercier | UAH

The Severe Weather Institute – Radar and Lightning Laboratories (SWIRLL) building at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) recently attained green building Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified status.

A plaque at SWIRLL marks the certification. Considered a hallmark of environmental responsibility and resource use, LEED is a rating system devised by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage market transformation towards sustainable design.

"LEED construction is beneficial in many ways, including use of materials without long distance travel, use of recycled materials, use of natural materials, limiting waste, keeping job sites clean, promoting energy savings and numerous other items," says UAH Campus Architect Larrell Hughes.

Glass Plaque

A plaque in the building denotes SWIRLL’s silver certification.

Michael Mercier | UAH

For the 17,528-square-foot building to become be certified, the review and submission of documentation following project completion was a very lengthy and arduous process, Hughes says.

"There must be verified operation to expected, calculated efficiencies of energy, there must be documented materials lists certified as LEED-approved usage and many other such documents prior to the final review, and sometimes comments and additional review of certification," he says.

SWIRLL’s high bay, where atmospheric scientists and researchers park and work on weather sensing and storm chasing equipment, makes up 4,800 square feet of the building’s total, and was also built to LEED standards.

"The entire building must be a part of consideration by LEED," Hughes says.

SWIRLL was built under a UAH standard requiring all new construction to meet LEED silver level design and construction. Charger Village and Charger Union are also LEED certified, Hughes says.

UAH remains committed to using LEED guidelines in future campus construction.

"SWIRLL is likely the last building we will actually certify," Hughes says, "but all new buildings will continue to be designed under the guidelines."