By Lesly Luna
Photo by Lesly Luna
Last month, the Student Center on campus was awarded a Silver Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification through the U.S. Green Building Council. Representatives from the construction and architecture companies that worked on the 15,000-square-foot building, as well as the Salem community attended the ceremony on October 12 where the coveted silver plaque was unveiled and now permanently displays in the main entrance.
LEED certification is a nationally recognized standard for voluntary building sustainability and environmentally responsible project strategies; it is designed to promote green structures and renovation projects. The honor is awarded in four certification levels by criterion dependent on five categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, interior environmental quality, and innovation in design—all efforts meticulously tracked by USGBC since the building’s design phase in 2011.
As an institution standing for more than two centuries, sustainability and preservation were subsequently kept in mind when designing the newest structure since 1982. The sustainability efforts were evident through not only the building’s impressive interior that has been honored by several awards since its opening in 2014, but also data revealed by the USGBC which noted that almost twenty percent of materials in the building were made of recycled content and whose mechanical systems were projected to reduce energy consumption by 22 percent.
This includes a hemlock tree cut down for construction that provided lumber for the tabletops in the center’s café and lower atrium. Salem’s aim to preserve the environment and minimize our impact on the world’s resources will continue as the planning of a new science building will have the aim of another LEED certification. To learn more about the LEED rating system visit the U.S. Green Building Council website.