As a state agency, Winthrop University must comply with Sustainable Construction Act of 2007 Section 48-52-800. This legislation requires the application of green building or comparable standards to measures of energy efficiency and energy conservation to state-funded facility projects (see section 48-52-830 (A)(1)). All major facility projects in this state, as defined in section 48-52-810(10)(a)(i), must be designed, constructed, and at least certified as receiving two globes using the Green Globes Rating System or receiving the LEED silver standard. All major facility projects in this state, as defined in section 48-52-810(10)(a)(ii) or (iii), must be analyzed using a life cycle cost analysis comparing the cost and benefits of designing, constructing, maintaining, and operating the facility at the LEED silver standard or two globes standard, or better, with certification; normal industry and regulatory standards as applicable; or some standard between the two that causes the project to be designed and constructed in a manner that achieves the lowest thirty-year life cycle cost.

Designed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), with a silver certification for the US Green Building Council (USGBC), the Lois Rhame West Center was constructed (and operates) using leading-edge environmentally conscious features. With its leading-edge environmentally conscious features (pdf - 455 KB), the West Center, which opened in September 2007, is both the largest and the most energy-efficient building on Winthrop's main campus.  Below are some of the key features included in the building.

  • The certified facility includes bike racks, showers and changing rooms to encourage walking or cycling to class.   A bus stop is located at the building on Alumni Drive.
  • "Energy Star" compliant roofing that reduces effects of the "heat island" effect.
  • At least 50% of the building materials contain high-recycled content.  At minimum, 20% of the building materials were manufactured locally or regionally, and 75% of the construction waste was diverted from local land fills.  Recycling efforts exist on all floors of the facility, with designated collections of paper, glass, cardboard and aluminum.
  • The combination daylight and occupancy sensors in offices and classrooms help to further reduce the use of artificial light throughout the facility, which greatly reduces the need for air conditioning and a smaller mechanical system.
  • The pool's water reclaim and reuse strategy saves approximately 200,000 gallons of water annually.  Low-flow plumbing fixtures also assist in the saving of over 400,000 gallons (35% reduction) of water per year. 
  • Sun shades lessen heat gain on the southern elevation of the building. Use of low, cut-off light fixtures prevents light pollution in the night sky.