While the dust still seems to be settling on the Sherman and Gloria H. Cohen Career Center, the building itself is already receiving recognition as a gold class building in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
In March 2000, the U.S. Green Building Council established a series of internationally standardized ideals for environmentally conscious construction. In order to be certified under one of four progressive standards, ascending from certified, silver, gold and platinum, a building project must have certain features, such as innovative wastewater technologies, maximized use of natural light and optimized energy performance. The Career Center met 60 to 79 separate criteria.
“I think [the LEED certification] makes a bold statement,” Director of the Career Center Mary Schilling said. “First of all, we did not want just to be certified. We did not even want just silver — we wanted gold … that is really important for parents, prospective students, for alumni who come back. It just is a real feather in the cap of the project.”
Proponents of the LEED certification argue that while LEED buildings are prime examples of responsible construction, they may also serve as testaments to the benefits of long-term, strategic planning. LEED buildings may require greater initial investment, but their increased efficiency results in a reduction of operating costs over the lifespan of the building.
For some, this can be disenchanting at a time when state budgets are stretched paper-thin.
“There is a benefit to universities or colleges such as the College of William and Mary for having buildings that are going to stand the test of time over a long period,” Principle Architect of Cunningham and Quill Architects and designer of the Career Center Lee Quill said. “It makes sense for the universities and the state to take a longer view in buildings, which address the needs of the university and the environment over an extended period of time.”
As sustainable resources are becoming more economical in construction, they are being applied in a variety of ways. Fast growing wood products, alternatives. Heating and cooling systems are redesigned with maximum efficiency and minimal environmental impact in mind.
“We have an obligation when we construct new buildings to construct buildings that are sensitive to the environment, that take advantage of technologies, engineering and architectural trends that we know are available to us, and that we build as responsible and sustainable a building as possible,” Schilling said.
Other College personnel are taking notice of the growing trend, supporting a more active consideration of environmental issues in construction on campus.
“It is great to see William and Mary moving toward LEED certified, responsible buildings — especially now that the College is requiring all new buildings to be LEED silver or better,” Sustainability Fellow for the College Sarah Hanke said.