ACC’s Rio Grande Campus has earned the highest certification possible for sustainable design and construction. The U.S. Green Building Council awarded the newly renovated campus building with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification in September 2022.

The Rio Grande Campus renovation project is the first LEED Platinum rating for the college and the tenth LEED-certified project. Three ACC projects earned LEED Gold certification — Highland Phase 1, Highland Phase 2, and San Gabriel — and three others were awarded LEED Silver certification — Round Rock, Hays, and Elgin.

“LEED Platinum is the highest level of green building certification possible. I am proud of ACC’s ongoing efforts to protect the environment and reduce costs through energy efficiency, waste reduction, and water-saving efforts,” says Andy Kim, ACC Energy/Sustainability director. 

Energy and Sustainability features of the Rio Grande Campus renovation project include:

  • Urban and high-density project offers occupants various amenities within walking distance and transit service access.
  • Preserving the existing structure saved raw materials and reduced unnecessary landfill waste.
  • Alternative transportation options are offered at the campus, including electric vehicle charging stations and Carpool and Green Car parking spaces.
  • Bicycle storage and a changing room for bike commuters.
  • No potable water is used for landscaping and the reclaimed water usage is also reduced by 78% by choosing drought-tolerant plants.
  • More than 90% of potable water was saved indoors by using the reclaimed water for the sewage conveyance.
  • Reflective roof coating is used to reduce the heat island effect.
  • Reduced the lighting and power cost by 40% with LEDs and ENERGY STAR-certified appliances.
  • Occupancy sensors and daylight sensors are incorporated to save energy.
  • Close to 40% reduction in total HVAC energy cost.
  • 11% of construction materials are made from recycled contents.
  • More than 50% of building materials were regionally manufactured or harvested, which reduced the long-range shipping cost and helped the regional economy.
  • More than 75% of construction waste was diverted from landfill via reuse or recycling.

ACC partnered with Studio8 Architects to renovate the nearly 100-year-old main campus building, which started in summer 2017.

“Studio8 Architects and Overland Partners are proud to be part of renewing and continuing the historic legacy of the Rio Grande Campus by restoring and modernizing the historic building for ACC’s current and future students. The design team updated the building to meet current needs, including increasing daylighting with new, efficient windows that mimic historic elements and lightweight and energy-efficient skylights for the courtyards; updating all major mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems to be energy and water efficient,” says Deanna Bounds, Studio8 principal. “In an effort to contribute to reduced embodied carbon, over 80% of the original foundation, structure, and envelope was maintained for the project. Extreme care was taken to preserve the historic elements yet transform the existing building to its highest and best use.”

The Rio Grande Campus renovation project also earned Austin Energy’s Green Building 4-Star rating.

Learn more about the project on Studio8’s Rio Grande project webpage and view the project’s USGBC LEED scorecard here.

For more information about ACC’s sustainability and green initiatives, visit