Green Building  

A Cleaner Weld: SPSCC's Lab Grabs LEED Gold

A community college is awarded LEED Gold Certification for their new welding facilities, which dramatically reduce pollution
 Clean Air welding stations help students breathe easier

Be sure to check out this article in our December issue of Construction Digital

Written by Jorgen Brahm, Senior Vice President at Clean Air America, Inc.

Green building construction is one of the strongest sectors in the construction industry, despite the slow economy. More and more companies, schools, and building owners are pursuing LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification for their buildings as a way to save money and energy and to support the environment. LEED-certified buildings are designed to be healthier and safer for occupants, while saving energy costs.

LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in March 2000, LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

LEED promotes sustainable building and development practices through a suite of rating systems that recognize projects that implement strategies for better environmental and health performance. The LEED rating systems are developed through an open, consensus-based process led by LEED committees, diverse groups of volunteers representing a cross-section of the building and construction industry.

Key elements of the process include a balanced and transparent committee structure, technical advisory groups that ensure scientific consistency and rigor, opportunities for stakeholder comment and review, member ballot of new rating systems, and fair and open appeals.

Recently, one educational facility achieved LEED Gold Certification within their Welding Lab. South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) is nestled on 101 acres of lush woods surrounding Olympia, WA. The school serves more than 7,000 students each quarter.


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The LEED-certified welding lab operates with high-energy efficiency equipment. SPSCC trains students to become employed as welders in the building trades, shipbuilding, bridge construction, welding fabrication, and maintenance repair work. Its state-of-the-art welding lab houses an environmentally friendly learning center for students and faculty, training them to become indispensable members of any construction team.

South Puget Sound Community College's welding program teaches students how to weld on all types of materials, including cast iron, steel, and aluminum in every shape, thickness, and size, in all positions. Students work on trailers, tanks, bumpers, metallic artwork, and more.

Typically, the welding process generates large amounts of smoke and dust that can be unhealthy for students to breathe while learning welding skills. That is why the school employed Clean Air America welding stations, which are one-piece, self-contained welding work centers that effectively and efficiently remove all welding smoke and grinding dust so that the weld lab has crystal clean air for students to breath.

Operating the lab five days per week from 7AM – 9PM requires the equipment to run efficiently and effectively. The WeldStation 5 uses a highly efficient backdraft hood with high efficiency blowers and premium efficiency motors. A smart-start feature turns the unit on as welding begins. When students finish welding, the WeldStation automatically engages its sleep mode for more energy savings. Longer life filters and LED illumination contribute to the reduction in energy usage and costs.

By utilizing these weld stations, the Weld Lab saves up to 80% in energy costs and guarantees a superior quality of indoor air for students and faculty. Utilizing the Clean Air WeldStation contributed to the overall points accumulated by the facility for LEED Gold certification. 

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