What does it mean to be “LEED” certified? According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), “ “LEED” is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.”
How Wilson Became LEED Certified
The third party verification system acts as a checks-and-balances system, with The Stonehouse Group being Wilson’s third party verifier. After a large amount of research by Michaels Engineering to find the best and most efficient air ventilation system, they came to the conclusion a dedicated outdoor air system would be the best choice. The DOAS reconditions 100 % outdoor air to room-neutral conditions, where under normal circumstances; everyday systems only recondition 70%. There is a digital control system for air ventilation in each room that works with an occupational sensor for these rooms. There was only one other such system in use in the USA when Wilson had this system installed. This system also added 10 points toward the certification.
West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund also granted Wilson College a $36,000 award to co-fund the installation of the DOAS, and $30,000 toward the installation of the solar hot water heating system, so help Wilson achieve its “LEED” certification.
According to Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Edward Wells, becoming “LEED” certified was not an original goal of the college when the project first came under consideration in 2006. It was suggested by Michaels Engineering that Wilson College apply for certification when they started as a subconsultant to Performa Higher Education, to install the “LEED” accredited electrical and plumbing engineering. Everything down to the insulation is “LEED” certified.
Benefits of LEED Certification
“It’s a perfect fit with Wilson’s mission to use the world’s recourses in an efficient manner. We want to address these issues not only in the curriculum, but also in the college operations and our construction projects” says Dr. Lorna Edmundson, Wilson’s president.
“LEED” certification added $500,000 to the $25 million cost of the Brooks Complex, but the extra cost will be more than offset by savings in energy and maintenance costs, as well as by additional gifts from donors committed to environmental sustainability.
There are 3 categories of certification for “LEED”; platinum, gold, and silver.
According to Christopher Pinkowski of Michaels Engineering, Wilson applied for 42 credits total, and were awarded all 42 credits, which made them Gold LEED certified. “The HOV parking spots, ashtrays 25’ away from the complex, bike racks and the showers in the rest rooms also added points for the complex,” said Wells.
Wells explains, “The “Green” image and good PR, coming from the “LEED” certification, will attract funding, reduce operating costs as well as reducing Wilson’s carbon footprint in the future. It has also helped in designing a high quality building for future students.”