After falling into disrepair and standing vacant, the University of Florida’s third-oldest building has been given new life as a high-tech, 24/7 “Learning Commons” for students. The building re-opened in the spring after an $18.9 million dollar renovation that included not only historic preservation and rehabilitation in its vision but sustainability, as well.
As a result, Newell Hall has received LEED Gold-level certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is one of the most widely used green building rating systems in the world.
“The marriage between sustainability and historic preservation is not always an easy one, so we’re really proud to have seemingly met or exceeded goals for both,” said Howie Ferguson, assistant director for UF’s Planning, Design and Construction Division and project manager on the Newell Hall restoration.
Some of the sustainable strategies incorporated into the Newell Hall renovation include low-flow water fixtures, water-efficient landscaping strategies, existing building reuse, low-emission paints and materials, and energy efficient equipment and lighting.
The project also took extra steps to recognize and celebrate the building’s and site’s heritage as home of the original Agricultural Experiment Station with interior graphics, outdoor public art that hints at organic growth, and planters that will be used to grow edibles and other plants maintained by student horticulture clubs, Ferguson said.