Sampson Hoffland Laboratories awarded prestigious LEED gold certification

Oct. 1, 2009

Luther College has received a gold certification from the internationally recognized Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building certification system in recognition of the environmentally friendly design and construction features incorporated in the college’s recently completed Sampson Hoffland Laboratories project.

Sampson Hoffland Laboratories is one of only eight LEED gold certified buildings in Iowa, and Luther is one of only three Iowa college’s to receive a gold certification.

Luther College officials were notified in September that the Sampson Hoffland Laboratories project had qualified for the LEED recognition and would be awarded a gold certification.

The LEED award program was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to promote a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in energy saving, water efficiency, carbon dioxide release reduction and improved indoor environmental quality.

LEED provides third-party verification that a building was designed and built using tactics aimed at improving the environment in terms of these key areas.

A building can be awarded LEED platinum (52-69 points), gold (39-51), silver (33-38) or LEED certified (26-32) status, based on a rating system that allots points for site selection, innovative design, selection of materials and resources, indoor environmental quality efficient use of water, and energy and atmosphere.

The Sampson Hoffland Laboratories building and facilities project was awarded a LEED score of 39 points. The Green Building Certification Institute verified Luther’s gold award.

The Luther project team will soon receive a LEED gold certification glass plaque.

The Sampson Hoffland Laboratories design includes a variety of other sustainable strategies, including:

  • A rain garden: Rainwater that falls on the roof and adjacent site is piped to the rain garden, where it is allowed to return to the water table rather than sent to the storm sewer and routed to the river. Plants that have deep roots were chosen for the garden to aid in that process.
  • Protection of native habitat: The oak savanna that once dominated this area will be seen to the east of the building. This will provide wildlife habitat, decrease the need for mowing and maintenance, and reduce water runoff.
  • Parking: Two preferred parking spots reserved for hybrids or low-emission vehicles provide an incentive for driving a more environmentally friendly vehicle.
  • Alternative transportation: To encourage bicycling as a form of transportation, the new building has a shower and changing room. Bicycle storage is located adjacent to both entrances.
  • Restroom water usage: Toilets are designed to maximize the efficiency of the water used on every flush. There are two settings, up for liquid waste and down for solid waste. Ultra-low-flow urinals and aerators also save water.
  • Recirculating chilled water: Cooling water used to remove heat from scientific instrumentation is plumbed into the building’s chilled-water recirculation loop rather than wasting treated city water.
  • Diverting construction waste: During demolition and construction, the crew aimed to divert 75 percent of waste materials from disposal.
  • Local and recycled materials: About 10 percent of the materials used in the building were sourced regionally, within 500 miles. About 20 percent of the material used in the new building is made from post-consumer recycled content.
  • Occupancy sensors: Ultrasonic and infrared sensors detect occupancy and adjust the lighting and airflow. Unoccupied rooms automatically shut off the lights and reduce the airflow for energy conservation.
  • Low-emissivity glass: A thin, transparent coating on the building’s windows reflects radiant heat, allowing heat to be reflected back into the building in winter and away from the building in summer.
  • Low volatile organic compounds: These harmful compounds exist in materials found throughout buildings in paints, carpets, sealants and furnishings. Materials with low volatile organic compounds were chosen for the new building.
  • DOAS: A Dedicated Outdoor Air System provides the building with 100 percent fresh air while saving energy. Sampson Hoffland Laboratories uses a four-enthalpy-wheel air duct system that will save an estimated 20-25 percent on energy for air conditioning.

Opened in Fall 2008, Sampson Hoffland Laboratories includes 17 teaching labs, faculty-student research areas, lab and research support/storage areas, 21 faculty offices, over 4,800 square feet of study area, and a space for collaborative student-faculty research projects.

For more information on the Sampson Hoffland building, visit Luther College’s website at To learn more about the LEED certification system, visit their website at

Sampson Hoffland Laboratories