Genesee Hall, the newest residence hall on the River Campus, was recently awarded LEED Silver Certification. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, “LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. LEED provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.”
University Facilities and Services Planning and Project Management and the design-build team utilized many innovative technologies to build a sustainable and efficient residence hall. One significant aspect of the design was water efficiency. The landscaping was designed so that it does not require any irrigation systems to be put into place and can sustain itself naturally. This makes the landscaping very water efficient since it does not necessitate the use of sprinklers or other water-intensive systems to maintain it. The plantings are all non-invasive species which inherently require less water to sustain. The amount of runoff into the storm sewer system was minimized by installing rain gardens to catch and drain water. Additionally, the building planners reduced potable water usage by 43% over the baseline code designed building.
In addition to increased efficiency in water usage, Genesee Hall takes on significant achievements in energy efficiency. The energy cost savings are 20.7% over a baseline-code designed building. Energy efficient fixtures were installed, such as window sensors that safely lower the target temperature of a room to minimize the energy that is lost by heating it to the baseline temperature of the entire hall. Additionally, part of the project included a two-year contract to purchase Green-e renewable certificates. These Green-e certificates are purchased to support and fund renewable projects that are built all over the United States. In total, these certificates will offset 70% of the electricity used for the building of the residence hall.
The design-build team carefully considered the materials used to construct Genesee Hall, and took precautions to divert as much waste as possible from going to the landfill. Eighteen percent of the total building materials were manufactured using recycled materials. The design-build team also ensured that 94% of the total wood-based building materials were certified in accordance with the principles and criteria of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Nearly a quarter of the total building materials were locally sourced, meaning that they have been manufactured and extracted within 500 miles. In total, the project diverted a whopping 76% of the on-site generated construction waste from a landfill to be recycled.
Overall, the Genesee Hall project achieved LEED Silver due to water and energy savings from green landscaping, energy efficient fixtures, and low-flow water fixtures as well as waste diversion and the use of sustainable materials. All of these factors contribute to a smaller carbon footprint and a new space on campus that represents significant sustainable achievement.
Written by Mariah Greico, Class of 2018