Green Corner: Turning a green building into a platinum rating

Have you heard the buzz about some buildings being Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified? LEED certification is the next step that Rider has taken to become part of a larger environmental movement.
Rider already has two LEED-certified buildings on campus: North Hall received gold certification in 2012, and West Village received silver in 2010. Westminster Choir College’s (WCC) Marion Buckelew Cullen Center is currently under construction, and is scheduled to be completed by fall 2014; it’s expected to win silver certification as well.
WCC’s new building is becoming a space for performances as well as classrooms and rehearsals. Not only was the building created specifically for great acoustic and sound for a choral rehearsal, but it was also designed with LEED in mind. KSS Architects, the architectural firm constructing the Cullen Center, even has a LEED accredited professional on the team.
The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) uses a point system to determine LEED certification for green building features. The points included a community connectivity aspect. This point questions if the building is in good standing with the surrounding community. For example, the building is in close proximity to local transportation. Also, it is not disrupting any natural habitats by being built and will overall make a good environmental impact in the place of the construction site.
The nature of the construction work is also helping to achieve LEED certification by limiting waste as much as possible. The site is reusing and recycling whenever possible as well as trying to limit what ends up in a landfill. Materials are also being purchased, inside and out, for the building that are made locally and from recycled material whenever possible.
On both campuses, all lighting will be energy-efficient bulbs. The Cullen Center is registered to become LEED-certified, and once it is, USGBC will decide how green the project really is via a point system and a visit to the construction site.
To register a site, many in-depth questions about the building must be answered. Question categories include water efficiency, energy and atmosphere sustainable sites, location and linkages, innovations and design, materials and resources, indoor air quality, awareness and education.
LEED certification has allowed Rider to continuously be on The Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges and Universities. The certification is also helping Rider reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Rider and President Mordechi Rozanski also signed the American College and Universities Presidents Climate Commitment. This commitment states that all future buildings will be LEED-certified at a minimum level of silver. Taking the opportunity to make the Cullen Center as green as possible through its design, construction and its use by faculty, staff and students shows how much we care about our impact on the environment.
On the Westminster campus, we are also staying true to our Tree Campus USA commitment. Tree Campus USA is a program sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation that helps colleges and universities establish and sustain healthy community forests. It has five standards: maintaining a tree advisory committee, having a campus tree-care plan, dedicating annual expenditures toward trees, holding an Arbor Day observance and sponsoring student service-learning projects. All trees that have been cut down because of the Cullen Center’s construction have been replaced by new trees.
Once a building is LEED-certified, sustainability should not stop there. One of the last steps of a LEED certification is to ensure that the maintenance of the building is green as well. Rider is constantly working toward its goal of becoming more sustainable. As students, so can you. There are LEED certifications for many things outside of colleges and universities, even including your own home. Although it may not be in our control at a young age whether or not we live and work in certified buildings, we should think about it in the future. We are the future that will keep this LEED certification going and make it successful.
-Gianna Pannullo
Westminster Eco-Rep

Printed in the 4/9/14 edition.

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