New Stetson University Building Wins State Award for Sustainability

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Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center recognized for conservation features.

The Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center was named the 2017 Outstanding Sustainability Project in the state by the Florida Planning and Zoning Association.

The thing that distinguished [the Rinker Welcome Center] the best was how they actually designed the building itself to fit into the environment to conserve and reduce energy.

The Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center on the Stetson University campus was named the 2017 Outstanding Sustainability Project in the state by the Florida Planning and Zoning Association (FPZA) last month. To earn the award the building competed against five others in the Sustainability category and was ultimately selected for its many features that conserve energy and water, make efficient use of land, and help recharge ground water supplies.

When Stetson University decided to build a welcome center on campus more than five years ago, university officials promised to build “an iconic, sustainable building” that would last for years to come. This award recognizes the successful completion of that goal.

“The thing that distinguished [the Rinker Welcome Center] the best was how they actually designed the building itself to fit into the environment to conserve and reduce energy,” said Helen LaValley, incoming FPZA state president, who oversaw the contest for the state planning awards. “The building incorporated the most design features out of all the projects.”

The Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center features glass walls that reduce the need for artificial lighting, a 50-year metal roof that reflects heat and helps keep the building cool, LED lighting inside requiring 75 percent less energy than traditional lighting, solar-powered lights in the parking area, and a system that directs rain water into chambers providing time for the water to percolate into and help replenish the Floridan Aquifer. It also uses reclaimed water for irrigation and low-flow plumbing fixtures.

Prior to winning the state award, the Rinker Welcome Center was recognized with the Outstanding Sustainability Initiative Award from the planning group’s local Surfcoast Chapter in December 2016. The building also received Green Globes Certification before it opened last fall.

John Rinker, president of the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Foundation, provided the lead gift to fund the construction of the building named in his parents’ honor.

“When we met with Mr. John Rinker, we made a commitment to him that we would build an iconic, sustainable building that would last 100 years,” recalled Al Allen, associate vice president for Facilities Management at Stetson. “This award certifies that we did everything that we shared with Mr. Rinker.”

Allen traveled to Naples in June to receive the award along with Stetson Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Bob Huth; Bob Lipscomb, CEO of the Williams Company, the general contractor; and Rob Gleason, Principle of Ro Jo Architecture, the firm that provided the design and engineering services.

The three-story Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center houses Admissions and Enrollment Management; a “one-stop” service area for students with the Registrar, Bursar and Financial Planning; meeting rooms; and Career and Professional Development for students and alumni.

About Stetson University
Founded in 1883, Stetson University is the oldest private university in Central Florida, providing a transforming education in the liberal arts tradition. Stetson stresses academic excellence and community-engaged learning, and consistently earns high marks in national rankings. Stetson encourages its students to go beyond success to significance in their lives, the lives of others and their communities. Stay connected with Stetson on social media.

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Heather Hunter
Stetson University
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