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New UI Research Building Achieves International Sustainability Certification

May 31, 2017

The Integrated Research and Innovation Center (IRIC) — the University of Idaho’s world-class interdisciplinary research facility — officially received LEED Gold certification this month. It is the first UI building to achieve this honor. 

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a program of the U.S. Green Building Council that certifies buildings based on sustainability in several areas, such as water and energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality and innovation in design.

“UI is thrilled with this accomplishment,” said Raymond Pankopf, UI’s director of Architectural and Engineering Services and lead manager for the IRIC building project. “It demonstrates the university’s ongoing commitment to sustainability in the way we educate students, do research and use our resources in the most effective and efficient way.”

UI Vice President for Research and Economic Development Janet Nelson said IRIC’s LEED status also demonstrates the university’s commitment to world-class research facilities.

“The IRIC sets a high bar for interdisciplinarity and interactivity,” Nelson said. “Weaving sustainability into the mix is critical for UI as we pursue expanding our research enterprise and increasing opportunities for faculty and student scholars in all fields.” 

The IRIC — which opened in January 2017 — features design elements that not only helped it achieve LEED Gold certification, but also offer benefits to the building occupants, the environment and the campus community as a whole.

Building features include dedicated bicycle parking and electric vehicle charging spaces; metal paneling and automatic window shades that let in natural light while reducing glare and heat; and a 3,500-cubic-feet rainwater catchment system used to water trees, native grasses and plants. A list of other design highlights is included on the IRIC website.

The path to achieving LEED certification begins before a building breaks ground and involves the architectural design and construction processes leading up to the final product. UI partnered with architects NBBJ, their team of consultants and Hoffman Construction to achieve Gold certification.

“We were able to earn the Gold Certification in a research-intense facility like the IRIC, which is an even larger accomplishment,” Pankopf said. “Research buildings and their activities use more energy overall than most general educational buildings due to the nature of their work. This means it’s tougher to earn this designation. But we did it on our first UI LEED project attempt — that’s remarkable.”

The IRIC is the first UI facility to achieve LEED certification, but the university is on track for more. LEED Gold Certification is pending for the remodeled College of Education building, which opened in August 2016.  The university also has adopted a policy that new construction and major remodel efforts achieve LEED Silver or equivalent.

Media Contact:
Tara Roberts
University Communications and Marketing

The IRIC, as seen during construction.

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, a research and Extension center in Twin Falls, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to more than 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference and Sun Belt Conference. Learn more: