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DACC's new East Mesa auditorium earns LEED Gold certification

New Mexico State University's commitment to sustainability continues to be recognized nationwide, as Dona Ana Community College's new East Mesa auditorium in Las Cruces, N.M., has achieved LEED Gold certification.

Dona Ana Community College's East Mesa auditorium, opened in 2011, earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. (NMSU Photo)

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building certification system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, that provides third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance in energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. LEED certification provides a third-party, independent verification that a building meets the highest green building measures. Gold certification is the second-highest rating a project may earn.

The project, known as DACC East Mesa Center Phase V, was awarded LEED Gold certification, and a seal presented to NMSU March 7 will be affixed to the outside of the building to acknowledge the accolade.

Joe Payyapilly, project manager in NMSU's Office of Facilities and Services, led the project team, which developed and built the large, lecture-style auditorium, complete with classroom space, courtyard, lobby space and support spaces behind the stage. The team was composed of LEED Commissioning Agent Michael Halcom, from Halcom Consulting LLC; Jason Clarke and Aaron Benefiel from Studio D Architects, Cindy Pitts from Warren Construction; and the FMS Engineering firm.

The total cost of the project was about $3.3 million, funded by general obligation bonds.

"I'm happy to see our auditorium building project at DACC East Mesa campus achieved LEED Gold status," Payyapilly said. "It was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the design and construction teams, as well as the DACC administration - an exemplary project team."

This is the second LEED certification award Payyapilly has helped earn for the university. In July 2010, the new NMSU Football Coaches Office was awarded LEED Silver status.

"It is important to realize that LEED is a performance enhancement tool, instead of a performance measurement tool," Payyapilly said.