Within days of one another, two of the newest buildings on the Northern Arizona University campus received recognition for their exceptional sustainability features.

First, the International Pavilion earned LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the highest honor from the organization’s LEED program. The pavilion is the university’s first net-zero facility. Then the USGBC announced that the Student and Academic Services building had been certified as LEED Gold. The building had already been awarded for its lighting efficiency.

To achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, a structure is evaluated on a point system that considers several criteria, including the effect the materials have on human health and the environment, the indoor environmental quality affecting occupant comfort, the smart use of energy efficient systems and water efficiency.

Environmental implementations the buildings boast include technology and science intended to reduce energy use. Features such as LED lighting and systems for reducing unnecessary light in sunlit rooms are standard. Lesser known innovations include gravity hoods to reduce warm air, solar tubes for natural lighting and thermal windows to warm the rooms in the winter.

NAU now boasts 12 LEED-certified buildings on its campus.