Beyond the Green Building Standard

Greener by DesignFrom the start, Berea College wanted to make a statement with this new residence hall: about sustainability, about student life, about leading by example – a charge designers took very seriously.

To measure its “green-ness” and track ongoing performance (energy, water, carbon footprint, health & well-being of occupants, etc.), the project team recommended the use of LEED, an international third-party certification system for green buildings. LEED (“Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”) addresses the entire lifecycle of a building – from design and construction through operations & maintenance. Designers also convinced the college to incorporate a newer standard for living buildings, raising the bar still further as the most advanced measure of sustainability today.

To earn LEED certification, a project must satisfy all of the program’s prerequisites and earn a minimum of 40 points on a 110-point rating scale. Buildings then qualify for four levels of certification (under the LEED 2009 standard): Certified = 40-49 points; Silver = 50-59 points; Gold = 60-79 points; and Platinum = 80 points and above. Our project? We’re on target for LEED Platinum, the highest certification!

Main LEED credit categories include:

  • Sustainable sites credits encourage strategies that minimize the impact on ecosystems and water resources.
  • Water efficiency credits promote smarter use of water, inside and out, to reduce potable water consumption.
  • Energy & atmosphere credits promote better building energy performance through innovative strategies.
  • Materials & resources credits encourage using sustainable building materials and reducing waste.
  • Indoor environmental quality credits promote better indoor air quality and access to daylight and views.

Along with two bonus credit categories:

  • Innovation in design or innovation in operations credits address sustainable building expertise as well as design measures not covered under the five LEED credit categories. Six bonus points are available in this category.
  • Regional priority credits address regional environmental priorities for buildings in different geographic regions. Four bonus points are available in this category.

Under the Living Building Challenge (LBC), our project is also seeking partial certification on key aspects of the new residence hall. LBC provides a framework for design, construction and the symbiotic relationship between people and all aspects of the built environment. This tool is comprised of seven distinct performance areas: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty.

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