Science Hall: First CUNY Building to Achieve Top Green Building Rating

Lehman College Science Hall is as green as it gets. The new facility on Lehman’s Bronx, NY campus earned a LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the first City University of New York (CUNY) building to be awarded the highest green building ranking.

More than 18,000 projects have achieved LEED certification worldwide, yet fewer than 1,200 have achieved the highest designation of Platinum. Sixty-seven of those are in New York State, including the Fifth Avenue headquarters of Tiffany and Company, and One Bryant Park, the New York headquarters of Bank of America and third tallest skyscraper in the city.

“This project and its Platinum rating reflects Lehman College’s commitment to a culture of environmental responsibility, and the creation and adoption of clean energy innovations on campus and throughout New York City,” says President Ricardo R. Fernández. “Science Hall and its potential represent the best of what public higher education can achieve for our society.”

Science Hall was dedicated in October 2012 and hosted its first classes in the spring semester of 2013. It earned platinum status for an array of environmentally sustainable technologies, such as a rainwater/greywater system to clean and recirculate water for use in restroom flushing fixtures and rooftop solar panels to heat the building’s water. It is also equipped with a rooftop teaching and research greenhouse.

The state-of-the-art facility was designed by architectural firm Perkins+Will and built by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY). Contractors included construction manager Gilbane Construction Corp., general contractor Calcedo Construction, B&G Electric, Aspro Plumbing, and BP Mechanical.

“We are proud to have achieved LEED Platinum certification for the Science Hall at Lehman College and to bring the client’s vision to life by delivering a high performance learning and research environment,” said Rob Goodwin, Design Director, LEED AP with Perkins+Will. “This project embodies an exciting new academic typology where the building and sustainable systems function as a living lab and an instrument of active learning.”

View Science Hall’s final LEED scorecard.

The four-story building is the first of a three-phase complex that will create a “campus within a campus” dedicated to the sciences. The facility was constructed with $70 million in funding provided by New York State, through the CUNY Capital Program. Capital funding for the rooftop greenhouse of $1.5 million was provided by an allocation from the New York City Council.

“This building fundamentally validates the notion that achieving LEED Platinum certification is possible on a modest institutional budget,” says Breeze Glazer, Research Knowledge Manager, LEED AP with Perkins+Will. “With an experienced design and construction team and a dedicated owner, LEED Platinum proved to be a near cost neutral effort that will benefit CUNY throughout the lifecycle of the building.”

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green building certification system that provides a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance approaches. USGBC is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit committed to achieving a sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

“With each new LEED-certified building, we get one step closer to our vision of a sustainable built environment within a generation,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “As the newest member of the LEED family of green buildings, Lehman College is an important addition to the growing strength of the green building movement.”

According to USGBC, buildings are responsible for 39 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, 40 percent of energy consumption, and 13 percent of water consumption nationwide. Greater building efficiency can meet 85 percent of future U.S. demand for energy, and a national commitment to green building could generate 2.5 million American jobs, according to USGBC estimates.

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