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F&M's New College House Receives Coveted LEED Silver Certification

  • New College House aerial
  • F&M's New College House has received the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Silver certification. Sustainable design features include rain gardens, which allow stormwater to be absorbed into the ground. 

Franklin & Marshall College's New College House has received one of the highest designations for sustainable building under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

The 188-bed, Georgian-style residential and community living space, built by the Wohlsen/Turner, A Joint Venture cooperative,  is the first building on campus to receive LEED Silver certification, said Mike Wetzel, F&M's associate vice president for facilities and campus planning.

"This is a great accomplishment and sets the standard for all future new construction on campus," Wetzel said, noting that the recognition affirms the College's continuing commitment to environmental stewardship.

He added that College leaders are committed to seeking LEED Silver certification for all new facilities on campus. This goal arose during the formation of F&M's Sustainability Committee, which was formed in 2010 and charged with developing sustainable approaches for many aspects of College operations.

Completed in April 2011, New College House -- designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects LLP -- incorporates numerous features to conserve energy and water and reduce emissions and waste. The building is one of five College Houses, which mix residential, social and academic uses as part of F&M's approach to involving students in campus life beyond the classroom. Other recently renovated buildings, including the Brooks, Bonchek, Ware and Weis college houses and the Patricia E. Harris Center for Business, Government & Public Policy, meet LEED Silver equivalent guidelines, he said.

In a letter informing the College of the award, S. Richard Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chairman of the Green Building Council, said LEED certification identifies New College House as "a pioneering example of sustainable design."

To receive the LEED Silver designation, construction projects must earn 50 out of 110 possible credits for sustainability, said Cynthia Hughes-Doyle, a senior associate with San Francisco-based Davis Langdon, the LEED consultant on the New College House project. F&M received credits not only for energy-efficient aspects of the 64,000-square-foot residence hall, but also for sustainable characteristics of the campus as a whole, she said. For example, the College was recognized for its proximity to public transportation.

New College House achieved an exceptional 18 percent reduction in energy cost savings with its design, Hughes-Doyle said.

"That's extraordinary," she said. "It is much more difficult to achieve energy efficiency with a dormitory because it is occupied 24 hours a day. The bulk of LEED-certified buildings are office and academic buildings on campus. Very few are dormitories, laboratories and gymnasiums."

Among the other notable aspects of the project:

  • The general contractor recycled more than 75 percent of the construction waste produced from the project and used recycled materials in the construction.
  • About a third of the building materials came from distributors within 500 miles of campus.
  • Paints, sealants and adhesives with low or no emissions were selected to support healthy air quality.
  • Individual controls were installed for lighting, heating and air conditioning to promote comfort and energy conservation.

Seeking and achieving LEED Silver certification sets an example for an entire community and for the building industry in general, Hughes-Doyle said.

"Colleges and universities are leading the way with green building and changing the industry," she said. "Students look at the environmental responsibility of their campus and expect to see it later in the workplace."