The Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1 (HAAB1) has received the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification.

It is the tenth university building to receive LEED certification and the fifth to earn gold.

The 93,860-square-foot building houses faculty and students from the departments of biological systems engineering and food science and technology who are collaborating on issues ranging from fermentation and food safety to bioprocessing and biofuels.

“It is apropos that the building in which we are working on solving some of the biggest environmental challenges of the future is itself a model of sustainability,” said Alan Grant, dean of the college.

LEED certification is the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability. It promotes design and construction practices that reduce the negative environmental impacts of buildings and improve occupant health and well-being.  

Some of the highlights of the sustainable design and construction of the building include:

  • Recycling 96 percent of all construction waste;
  • Use of construction materials containing recycled content;
  • Use of regionally manufactured building materials;
  • Reduced water consumption both inside and out;
  • 84 percent of all wood products in the building came from Forest Stewardship Council certified forests.

In addition, the $53.7 million building’s placement on the lot on the corner of Duck Pond Drive and Washington Street was chosen to minimize harsh western sunlight while maximizing passive daylight via large bay windows. The laboratories in the building were designed to allow for multiple uses over the years, saving on projected renovation costs and materials.

The Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment, which was reaffirmed in 2013, commits the university to constructing all new buildings to at least LEED silver standards.

The building is the first of four within the planned Human and Agricultural Biosciences Precinct.

Other new technologies in the building are a state-of-the-art sensory research laboratory and a biosecurity level 2 food processing pilot plant. The pilot facility will allow food processing and packaging researchers to conduct research with commercial food processing and packaging equipment to ensure a safe, reliable food supply. Laboratory facilities also allow scientists to explore how food fermentations can supply desirable microorganisms in our foods to lessen chronic illness and improve health.

There are also dedicated analytical and microscopy laboratories, a nanoscale research laboratory, and pilot scale research facilities to enable large-scale conversion of renewable resources to biofuels, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. These technologies will enable further advances in synthetic biology, enzyme engineering, metabolic engineering, synthesis of renewable materials, bio-nanotechnology, protein purification, sustainable bioprocessing, and water quality analysis.

“This is an exciting time for the college,” Grant said. “This new building and the future biosciences precinct are going to help the agriculture and life sciences disciplines and industries thrive while looking ahead to the future to address emerging challenges.”

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.