College's Science Center attains LEED Gold
The Centralia College Science Center has received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. From room sensors that automatically turn off lights in empty rooms to landscaping that reduces water use by nearly 50 percent, the building serves as a high standard in ‘green’ technology.
The 70,000-square foot structure, completed in 2009, attained LEED Silver but that was elevated to Gold when the college demonstrated that it met the higher standards.
“Our goal is to make our buildings serve as sustainable structures,” said Dr. James Walton, Centralia College president. “We recognize the importance of sustainability and the role we have in reducing consumption of resources and lowering, as much as possible, the college’s carbon footprint. The Gold designation demonstrates that we take seriously our commitment to sustainability.” Platinum, the highest rating, is one step up from Gold but is a rare achievement for a science building.
LEED is a rating system for buildings, equivalent to a gas mileage rating for cars. Under LEED, a building accumulates points for things such as saving energy, having accessible mass transit, and mitigating storm water runoff. Once the points are tallied, the building earns a LEED rating. The higher the tally, the more sustainable, or ‘green’ the building.
For LEED Gold certification many ‘green’ features were integrated into building design and construction. Nearly everything from the paint and sealants to the carpeting and non-colored concrete met those heightened standards. Almost 30 percent of the total building material content was manufactured using recycled materials and more than 300 tons of construction material “waste” were diverted from landfills, designated for recycling. Ninety-two percent of the wood-based building materials were harvested from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests. Plumbing fixtures in the building are low-flow, irrigation outside the building uses reclaimed water, and sensors vent carbon dioxide buildup in classrooms.
Emission of compounds that contribute to ozone depletion and global warming have been minimized or eliminated.
“We want all our classrooms and labs within our buildings to have a minimal effect on the land, the air, the water,” said Walton. “We are caretakers of our resources and our environment and with that we have a tremendously important responsibility to be good stewards.”
Centralia College is a part of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, a pledge to model ways to minimize global warming emissions, and to provide the knowledge and educated students to achieve climate neutrality.