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Highlands Natatorium Achieves LEED Gold

Las Vegas, N.M – New Mexico Highlands University’s renovated natatorium was certified as LEED Gold, a high-level measure of green building practices.

The 12,605-square-foot natatorium was built in 1966 and houses the university’s swimming pool. The building got a major facelift in 2010 and reopened in 2011.

The renovation project incorporated green building practices and sustainability features such as energy and water efficiency, recycling demolition materials, landscaping with native plants, and more. 

Even the durable new plastic furniture for the patio and pool deck is made of recycled milk jugs. 

“In 2011 the natatorium was selected from a field of nationwide entries to be featured in American School & University magazine’s annual issue focusing on outstanding designs as well as renovations and modernizations,” said Marisol Greene, facilities and planning director. “The selection was based on how much we achieved in the natatorium renovation based on what we had to work with. It was quite an honor to be one of the featured buildings.”

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The U.S. Green Building Council awards LEED certification to a building that qualifies based on data collected from a year of usage after it opens.

The natatorium is the third Highlands University building to receive LEED certification in recent years.

In 2010, the university’s residence hall that opened in 2009 was the first dormitory in the state to be awarded LEED Silver certification.

In 2011, the Felix Martinez building received LEED Gold for a major remodel. The building is now a one-stop shop for student services.

Greene said all new Highlands University construction and remodels for existing campus buildings are being done to LEED standards to reduce environmental impact and save energy.

The natatorium is at northwest corner of Baca Avenue and 11th Street, west of Perkins Stadium and the field house.

Colorful new tiles spruce up the interior walls of the natatorium, and all the locker rooms and bathrooms were remodeled. 

New garage-door-size glass walls on the west side of the pool bring in more natural light and can retract, opening the pool to the outdoors in warm weather. A new walled, landscaped patio area on this side of the pool gives swimmers a chance to catch some rays. 

A new hydraulic lift was installed in the pool, giving greater access for those with disabilities. 

The natatorium has the only deep-water pool in the area and a new diving board was installed. The depth also makes scuba diving and lifeguard classes possible. 

Courtesy photo Soleil West Architects