University student center wins LEED Gold


A look inside the multi-purpose FSU University Center for students after a $34-million renovation. Courtesy FSU

A university in the region has brought home gold for a $34-million renovation of its student center.

Ferris State University said recently the University Center at its Big Rapids campus has received a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The renovated facility opened to students in January.


The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification program recognizes best practices and strategies for sustainable and cost-effective building projects at four levels: certified, silver, gold and platinum.

FSU’s University Center scored between 60 and 79 points as a gold-certified project on the council's rating system, which includes factors such as integrative process, location and transportation, materials and resources, water efficiency and energy and atmosphere.

Michael Hughes, associate VP for physical plant at FSU, said the University Center is the fourth FSU facility to receive the gold-level designation.

“We’re extremely proud of that accomplishment,” Hughes said. “It’s a collaborative effort between our design partners, our construction management firm and our physical plant staff.”

Student center

The University Center is the result of nearly three years of work to renovate the former Rankin Student Center, which was established in 1957.

The renovation project was approved by the FSU President’s Council in 2012, and the spending plan was approved later the same year by the board of trustees.

The renovated center features energy-efficient plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems, a 6,000-square-foot Quad Café, fireplaces with repurposed limestone from demolished residence halls and meeting spaces.

Sustainable building vision

FSU has also received LEED Gold certification for three other construction projects: the East Campus Suites in Big Rapids; renovation of the Woodbridge N. Ferris Building in Grand Rapids; and the Michigan College of Optometry in Big Rapids.

“It is part of our mission statement, our vision, values and goals to seek sustainability,” Hughes said. “It just demonstrates through an internationally recognized system, we’re achieving those goals we’ve been asked to pursue. We’re excited about the challenge, and we look forward to continuing this run of overachieving, getting LEED Gold-certified buildings.”

Earlier this year, the school's board adopted the Big Rapids 2015 Master Plan, which prioritizes sustainability practices in construction and renovation projects and a commitment to seek a minimum LEED Silver designation on projects.

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