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New building one of three in Wisconsin with highest USGBC environmental rating
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has officially awarded platinum-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) status to Beloit College’s Center for the Sciences. The platinum designation is the highest rating offered by the USGBC, and the science center is one of only three buildings in the state of Wisconsin to receive this distinction.
“We are extremely pleased with this accomplishment, which is important for Beloit College, the city of Beloit and for higher education,” said Kohnstamm Professor of Chemistry Brock Spencer, who coordinated the design and construction of the building for the college. The city of Beloit is home to one other LEED-certified building, the gold-rated Kettle Foods plant.
In order to achieve any level of LEED certification, building owners and operators must use measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. The 117,000-square-foot building, which opened for classes in the fall of 2008, and houses 10 academic departments and programs, was designed by Holabird & Root Architects of Chicago, and constructed by contractors J.H. Findorff & Son Inc. of Madison and Klobucar, of Beloit. The LEED certification comes on the heels of another important award for the science building: the Design Excellence Honor Award in Interior Architecture from the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
“The success of our new science center reflects the phenomenal collaboration of creative architects, talented engineers, professional construction firms and the finest faculty and staff who were, and are, committed to the best outcome for our students,” said Beloit College president Scott Bierman. “We are, of course, thrilled to have gotten LEED platinum status; but even more important is that we have a building that works terrifically well—as well as any I have ever seen—as an integrated set of learning spaces.”
The science center contains a host of environmentally friendly features, such as a green, vegetated roof, high-recycled content in building materials and furnishings, significant reduction in energy and water use, and a storm-water cistern for watering plants in the greenhouse. “We expect the building itself to be a significant educational resource on sustainability for many generations of students and the community,” Spencer said. The new building supports the innovative and interdisciplinary teaching and learning that is a hallmark of the sciences at Beloit.
Furthermore, as Chamberlin Hall—Beloit’s former science building—was deconstructed, 98 percent of those construction materials were recycled or repurposed, contributing to the new Center for the Science’s platinum rating.
The need for a functional science center and all the energy-intensive specifics that such a building can entail did not deter the college, architects and construction firms working on the project from seeking the highest possible level of sustainability and energy savings, though it did make the process more challenging. Beloit College’s science center is one of fewer than 20 LEED platinum-rated higher education science centers in the country.
“Because of the technical requirements for a science facility, achieving certification at the platinum level was particularly challenging,” Spencer said. “It required a concerted effort by the architects and contractors involved in the project, and reflects a strong commitment by the college and its board to trustees to campus sustainability.”
Issued: December 17, 2009