Building Design Standards

Design Standards

  • Building air conditioning systems make extensive use of economizer cooling to use outside air instead of mechanical energy for cooling whenever temperatures allow.


  • Air handling systems for nearly all major fan systems use variable frequency drives to reduce fan energy and prolong motor life.


  • Chilled water systems and many of the heating hot water systems on campus use variable flow systems with variable frequency drives on the pumps to minimize pumping energy and extend pump motor life.


  • Chilled water from the Central Chilled Water Production and Distribution System is the preferred means to provide heat rejection needs for items such as food and storage locker coolers within the Uiversity’s food service venues. This allows the university a savings in avoided costs related to individual air-cooled condensing units.


  • Nearly all of the newer lab buildings and some other facilities such as the new Living Learning Center make extensive use of heat recovery systems to reduce energy costs by tempering (heating and/or cooling) ventilation air. The University of Idaho is a leader in the State in terms of the use of heat recovery systems in laboratory facilities.


  • The HVAC systems for all new buildings and major remodeled buildings are controlled through a campus wide Energy Management System (EMS), and where possible, each HVAC system has an unoccupied mode sequence of controls.


  • All new buildings and major remodeled buildings are sub-metered for energy use (steam, electricity, and chilled water), and water use for both domestic and irrigation systems.

Sustainable Building Design

  • The University of Idaho has incorporated specific precepts, strategies, and technologies related to sustainable building design in the design and construction of each facility recently identified and completed under the current Long Range Campus Development Plan (LRCPD). Architectural responses and strategies such as siting based upon environmental determinants, daylighting, solar shading of glazing and sustainable materials such as the use of strawboard are incorporated in facilities such as the Idaho Commons, Student Recreation Center, and Agricultural Biotechnology Laboratory. As indicated earlier, mechanical systems are designed to be efficient – often exceeding Idaho State Energy Code requirements - and make use of strategies such as heat recovery, VFD’s, zoning, location of intakes based upon environmental determinants, and digital controls.


  • LEED Certification: The Architect for the Idaho Water Center project in Boise was NBBJ of Seattle, WA., a leader in LEED certified building processes. With NBBJ’s guidance and mentoring, the original intent was to design the structure in a manner that would meet LEED Silver certification levels. Design strategies incorporated in the structure include 18 inch raised floor with under floor distribution of HVAC systems, energy efficient glass and lighting, light shelves for daylighting, a geothermal loop for hot water in the HVAC system and xeriscaping in the exterior courtyard. The building would likely qualify for a "Certified" level building.  However, the University has not applied for such certification.


  • The University has a policy to concentrate building expansion in the campus core avoiding sprawl. In addition, whenever feasible, the University will implement building restoration of existing but obsolete buildings instead of total demolition, which recycles much of the building material. Both of these policies are qualified LEED strategies. 

LEED Certification

US Green Building Council

Learn about the internationally recognized certification system LEED. More