College hopes to earn LEED certification for Little Building

The college hopes to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council to make the Little Building environmentally friendly, according to a college official.

In 2018, Emerson ranked 165 out of 170 colleges and universities in a RecycleMania recycling competition measuring how much waste the college recycles or composts. In fall 2017, the Beacon reported the college only diverts 27 percent of its waste from landfills. The college currently owns three LEED-certified residence halls—Piano Row, 2 Boylston Place, and the Colonial building.

Gianna Gironda, the Student Government Association sustainability commissioner, said she is glad to see the college taking steps to make Little Building more environmentally friendly, but she wants the college to do more.

“I’d love to see what exactly they’re doing with the construction of the building to make sure it is being sustainable,” Gironda said. “Emerson as a whole has a really bad grade of being ecologically friendly—we have one of the worst scores in colleges.”

LEED recognitions come at a variety of levels, ranging from certification to platinum, based on how many points a building receives on an exam. A building earns points by installing environmentally friendly technology and using green construction practices. The building receives recognition by working with a contracted individual, known as an LEED-accredited professional to ensure the building meets criteria the USGBC sets.

Under the current LEED guidelines, a building with 40-49 points is certified, a building ranging from 50-59 points is silver, a building with 60-79 points is gold, and a building with 80 points or more is platinum.

The Piano Row residence hall is certified, 2 Boylston Place is gold, and the Colonial residence hall is gold, according to the USGBC directory. The Commons and the Paramount Center and residence hall are not certified.

Once certified, LEED buildings maintain certification permanently, but the college agrees to re-verification that the building is environmentally friendly from an LEED-accredited inspector approximately every five years, according to Senior Associate Vice President of Real Estate Arthur Mombourquette.

Mombourquette said in an interview that obtaining gold status for the 2 Boylston Place residence hall was easier for the college than it might be for Little Building. This is because 2 Boylston Place is 2 years old compared to the 102-year-old Little Building.

“With new construction like 2 Boylston Place, it’s a little bit easier because you’re starting from scratch,” Mombourquette said. “It’s a lot more challenging with a building like the Little Building where you’re adapting an older structure and retrofitting it with sustainable construction techniques.”

Both 2 Boylston Place and the Little Building have stormwater control, meaning the college collects all the rainwater that falls on the rooftop and reuses it in the building’s toilets. Mombourquette said it was easier to build 2 Boylston’s stormwater control because there was more available space on the building’s rooftop.

In addition to stormwater control, the Little Building will also use recycled materials throughout the building in areas such as the flooring and will include timed lights to control electricity usage.

Mombourquette said approximately 90 percent of materials from the old Little Building were recycled, such as the concrete exterior panels which were ground up to become fill-and-paving material for streets.

Mombourquette said the college does not have any plans to upgrade more of its buildings to receive LEED status in the foreseeable future.

Emerson Green Collective’s Co-President William Palauskas said he is happy to see the college take steps toward making the Little Building more environmentally friendly.

“Having another LEED certified gold building will be great,” Palauskas said. “Platinum would be better, but I don’t know if we’ll have that.”

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