Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall receives LEED certification for green architectural design
Published: Thursday, February 24, 2011
Updated: Sunday, February 27, 2011 19:02
When waiting outside for the Peter Pan bus a few weeks ago, students noticed the Alumnae Hall was under construction. The construction has been finished and the building is now reopened.
But what has changed? More than meets the eye. The Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall now runs off of green power, has improved water efficiency and is made of recycled and reused materials.
As part of an effort to increase environmental sustainability on campus, the College had put together a team to plan and carry out a green renovation of the Alumnae Hall using the guidelines and certification provided by LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system that provides third-party confirmation that a building was constructed using strategies aimed at saving energy, improving water efficiency, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, upgrading indoor environmental quality and saving resources.
Patrick Willoughby, the College's Director of Sustainability, said the College has had intentions for creating a greener campus one step at a time. It "finally decided to go to LEED, as it provides guidelines and a stamp of approval," he said. Willoughby gave input in the planning phase and assisted the renovation process as a team member.
Willoughby accounted for the diverted landfill waste that went into the renovation. "Massachusetts waste [that is] bound for landfills gets transported all the way to upstate New York," he said. "By diverting that waste from going to a landfill we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions from trucks carrying heavy loads."
The renovation process also reduced waste by re-pulverizing concrete from the old building for the new building. "Anything that can be reused helps in the green effort," Willoughby said.
To be awarded the LEED certification and be ranked as "certified," "silver," "gold" or "platinum," the team renovating the building had to meet a set of criteria based on a points system. The criteria include sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation and design process.
Alumnae Hall gained three points in the materials and resources criterion by meeting three specifications under the "building reuse" sub-category. It earned one point for maintaining at least 75% of existing walls, floors and roof. It received an additional point for maintaining 100% of these elements. Alumnae Hall gained a third point with its maintenance of 50% of interior non-structural elements in the renovation. It also earned two points under the "construction waste management," a sub-category of the "materials and resources criterion:" one point for diverting 50% of waste from disposal and the other for diverting 75%.
The Alumnae Hall earned a total of 44 points per criterion out of a possible 69. The score falls under the "gold" bracket of 39 to 51 points. The topmost bracket, "platinum," requires at least 52 points.
Initially, the College earned a Silver certification when it attempted a green renovation of the Alumnae Hall. But the sustainability team put in more effort and met the requirements needed to obtain the Gold certification.
"Alumnae Hall looks fabulous," co-president of Wellesley Energy and Environmental Defense, Amanda Faulkner '11 said.
"There are many valid criticisms of LEED and it is an imperfect system," Faulkner said. The College plans to pursue LEED certification again for the renovation of the Whitin Observatory. Despite "quite a bit of criticism," Willoughby said, "LEED is still the nation's established standard program for green building certification." According to Faulkner, LEED provides "a baseline for energy efficiency and through third-party verification it ensures honesty."