The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has awarded the Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation (CSI) a LEED Gold certification.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used third-party verification for green buildings. It is a system created by USGBC that measures aspects of a building’s sustainability during and after construction.
MCLA President James F. Birge believes the value of this award comes from its reputation.
“I think the most important advantage for MCLA as a result of the recognition by the US Green Building Council is that we articulate to the public our commitment to outstanding design for teaching and learning space while recognizing our environmental responsibility,” Birge said.
According to Lawrence Behan, vice president of Administration and Finance at MCLA, sustainability is evolving into an important aspect when designing and constructing buildings, especially in the school system.
“Both the private and public sector is looking to build smart and sustainable because they are not only beneficial for the environment but also more cost effective to operate,” Behan said. “Sustainability is becoming more prevalent in the public discourse, which is a great thing.”
Behan explained one major green feature that the CSI building incorporates is the design of the air handling system. The system features variable speed drives that self-regulate its usage and changes energy consumption based on what is needed. This prevents the system from running at full drive continuously, saving energy when it can.
Other features include high efficiency lighting and lighting controls, a roof garden, photovoltaics, heat wheels to recover energy, and chilled beams to move air without fans.
With this award MCLA now has two LEED certified buildings- CSI and Bowman Hall.
“I am very excited that MCLA made a commitment to use USGBC and LEED design principles when planning the construction,” Birge said. “Both facilities are examples of building excellent teaching and learning environments that honor the intersection between environmental consciousness and modern design.”
Behan compared the construction process of CSI to an LED light bulb. Designing with green principles is initially more expensive, but the cost to run the building is much lower than if they used common practices. A LED light bulb is more expensive than a regular light bulb at the initial purchase but saves money in with its energy saving design.
LEED certification uses a point system that addresses many areas of sustainability issues. The number of points received determines the project’s rating: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
According to Behan, the process for getting certified begins with the initial design of the building. Those working on the project consciously decided that they would use green practices and incorporate suitability aspects into the building to achieve a LEED rating.
When USGBC comes to verify the suitability design aspects of a particular building, they require supporting documentation that proves what practices were used.
LEED considers a large number of factors when certifying projects including the amount of electricity saved, insulation, and water conservation.