Van Andel Institute earns highest green building award

VAI Phase II becomes only second new facility in Michigan and one of a dozen research institutes nationally to achieve Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Award

Grand Rapids, Mich. - April 22, 2011 - Just in time for Earth Day, a 240,000-square-foot addition to the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI), a TGen affiliate, was awarded LEED Platinum status by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

VARI finalized an alliance and affiliation with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in February 2010. Dr. Jeffrey Trent is President and Research Director of both biomedical research institutes.

VAI is only the second facility awarded Platinum LEED for New Construction in Michigan, and sets the Institute and its facility apart with a dozen national peers as a leader of sustainable building practices in the field of biomedical research.

"Van Andel Institute's LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership," said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. "The urgency of USGBC's mission has challenged the industry to move faster and reach further than ever before, and Van Andel Institute serves as a prime example with just how much we can accomplish."

Developed by USGBC, LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

Platinum is the highest of four possible levels of certification.

"Van Andel Institute's Phase II building is innovative in design, and incorporates a multitude of green initiatives beyond what seemed possible for a research institute just a few short years ago," said VAI Chairman and CEO David Van Andel. "And while LEED Platinum certification is a tremendously gratifying accomplishment, we set out from the very beginning to be a leader in terms of sustainable building practices because we knew that it is the right things to do."

The Institute's pledge to be a leader in sustainable building practices mirrors that of the region and of the City of Grand Rapids. The city leads the nation in the percentage of completed LEED projects, and is one of just two cities in the top thirty LEED cities in the nation with a population under 200,000 inhabitants.

"This is a fitting announcement to kick off the week of Earth Day," said Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell. "As a leader of innovative biomedical research located in the heart of Grand Rapids' Medical Mile, Van Andel Institute's LEED Platinum status continues the city's national leadership role as an innovator in the field of sustainable development and green building design."

The Van Andel Institute building was designed by New York-based Rafael Viñoly Architects PC. Viñoly's broad portfolio of award-winning work includes the Tokyo International Forum, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, and a much-publicized proposal for the World Trade Center site.

The eight-story, $178 million facility, which opened in December of 2009, incorporates such energy efficient mechanisms as photovoltaic panels to reduce energy demands during summer, a heat recovery system to reduce heating demand, low-flow water fixtures that reduce water usage by 40.7%, 27,000-gallon rainwater storage tanks to further reduce demand for potable water, the diversion of 79% of construction waste from the landfill, and the usage of locally-manufactured materials in the production process. Intelligent building design features include CO2 sensors throughout the building that detect the presence of people and automatically adjust room ventilation rates.

The construction of Phase II provided more than 1,800 local building jobs between the project groundbreaking in April of 2007 and completion. The majority of the project team was composed of Grand Rapids-based businesses. In addition to Rafael Viñoly Architects PC, the Phase II project team included Hunt/Owen-Ames-Kimball, Culhane & Fahrenkrug Consulting, LLC, URS, Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber Inc., Materials Testing Consultants, and CommTech Design.

"We are extremely proud of Van Andel Institute's achievement in attaining the highest standard of LEED certification. This is no easy task and demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and leadership within the Institute's own industry as well as that of green building. It will also continue to help Grand Rapids stay at the forefront of the green building movement," said Renae Hesselink, Chair, U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan.

VAI Phase II creates economic and scientific opportunity both for VAI and West Michigan's burgeoning life sciences sector and adds to the more than $1 billion investment in infrastructure already in place along Grand Rapids' Medical Mile. When operating at capacity, VAI's expansion will support a $125 million annual research operation that expands the number of laboratories from the current 22 to more than 50, and provides the capacity for 550 additional jobs.

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About Van Andel Institute
Established by Jay and Betty Van Andel in 1996, Van Andel Institute (VAI) is an independent research and educational organization based in Grand Rapids, Mich., dedicated to preserving, enhancing and expanding the frontiers of medical science, and to achieving excellence in education by probing fundamental issues of education and the learning process. Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) is dedicated to strengthening science education and preparing and motivating individuals to pursue science or science-related professions. Van Andel Research Institute (VARI), the research arm of VAI, is dedicated to probing the genetic, cellular and molecular origins of cancer, Parkinson's and other diseases and working to translate those findings into effective therapies. This is accomplished through the work of over 200 researchers in 18 on-site laboratories and in collaborative partnerships that span the globe. VARI is affiliated with the Translational Genomics Research Institute, (TGen), of Phoenix, Arizona.

Media Contact:
Joe Gavan
Vice President, Communications and External Relations
(616) 234-5390
[email protected]


About TGen
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit:

Press Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
[email protected]

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