Skip to main content

Raven Precision Agriculture Center awarded LEED Silver certification

Raven Precision Agriculture Center exterior photo
The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded South Dakota State University’s Raven Precision Agriculture Center with a LEED Silver certification.

The US Green Building Council has awarded South Dakota State University’s Raven Precision Agriculture Center with a LEED Silver certification.

The facility is the 19th LEED-rated building on campus, according to Jennifer McLaughlin, sustainability specialist for SDSU Facilities and Services.

Developed by USGBC, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is the most widely used green building rating system in the world and an international symbol of excellence.

Through design, construction and operations practices that improve environmental and human health, LEED-certified buildings are helping to make the world more sustainable. They are rated on a variety of environmental factors including energy conservation, material source, construction waste and water efficiency.

The Raven Precision Agriculture Center was designed with collaboration in mind, bringing SDSU’s Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science under one roof, where students and faculty can collaborate, conduct research and innovate.

With nearly 130,000 square feet of floor space, the center includes over 35,000 square feet of wet laboratories and 26,000 square feet of industrial high bay research and teaching space. There are numerous specialty spaces including a dynamometer bay, a fabrication bay, a bio-processing suite, woodshop, quarter-scale tractor lab and many others. In addition, there is also substantial classroom and office space.

The $46.2 million facility, which opened in fall 2021, was supported by South Dakota stakeholder groups, industry partners and legislative leaders. Initial design work started in 2015, but efforts to bring the facility to fruition started years before that.

The land where the building was constructed previously held parking space, a seedhouse, headhouse and greenhouse.

Most of the points earned on Raven’s LEED scorecard were related to the building’s energy use, indoor environment, water use and material use.

Colin Gaalswyk, project manager with Facilities and Services, said the Raven Precision Agriculture Center was built with special attention paid to the energy efficiency of its HVAC system, which was important for a space that’s lab intensive and requires continuous outside air for safety.

“The more efficient you can make those laboratory systems operate, the less cost there is over the course of the building’s life,” Gaalswyk said. “The goal is to always be good stewards of the money and resources we have, both in the initial construction and for long-term operations.”

The cost of building to LEED standards is only about 1-2% of construction costs, but it has great return on investment over time.

Exterior windows were field tested for water and air tightness, which has been done on only a couple of other buildings on campus. “By doing that, it revealed some of the deficiencies to the installer, and we got those corrected,” Gaalswyk added.

Other efficiencies involved tracking waste and recycling content, including concrete and asphalt.

“Transforming buildings and spaces happens one project at a time. South Dakota State University understands the value of LEED and has shown extraordinary leadership in reshaping the market,” said Peter Templeton, president and CEO of USGBC. “The success of LEED is due to the partnership and support of those committed to advancing green building and sustainability. Each new LEED certification brings us one step closer to revolutionizing the spaces where we live, learn, work and play.”

Implementing LEED standards on a project involves everyone from architects and engineers to contractors and subcontractors, Gaalswyk noted.

Sixteen buildings on the SDSU campus are rated LEED Silver: Jackrabbit Village (Abbott, Spencer and Thorne residence halls); Alfred Dairy Science Hall; Daktronics Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Addition; McCrory Gardens Education and Visitor Center; Jackrabbit Grove (Ben Reifel, Schultz, Hyde and Honors residence halls); Chicoine Architecture, Mathematics and Engineering Hall; Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex; Stanley J. Marshall Center Addition; the Miller Wellness Center Addition; Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory; and Raven Precision Agriculture Center.

Three buildings are rated LEED Gold: Dykhouse Student-Athlete Center, Harding Hall and the American Indian Student Center.