Allegheny College’s North Village II residence hall has become the first new construction project in northwestern Pennsylvania to achieve LEED Gold certification for sustainable features in its design, construction and operation. North Village II opened in fall 2010 and houses 230 students in two- and four-bedroom suites that include kitchen and bath facilities.
Established by the U.S. Green Building Council, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification program recognizes excellence in energy and water efficiency, the use of sustainable materials and other environmentally sound strategies. The program has four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
Allegheny has committed to attaining LEED Silver certification or better for all new construction projects on campus. That was the level initially expected for North Village II, but careful planning and attention to detail from the project’s earliest stages helped lead to Gold certification, said Kelly Boulton, Allegheny’s sustainability coordinator.
Beginning in 2008, a team of Allegheny students and staff members worked closely with WTW Architects to set sustainability goals for North Village II and provide feedback on its design. As construction progressed, college staff consulted regularly with the project’s general contractor, Massaro Corp., to ensure that specifications and materials remained consistent with LEED standards and Allegheny’s sustainability values.
“The design and construction of North Village II required hard work and creativity by many individuals,” said Boulton. “We’re so appreciative of those efforts and are thrilled with the result: an outstanding residential space for our students that fits beautifully in Allegheny’s historic campus and advances our commitment to sustainability.”
The building’s sustainable strategies and features include Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood; construction materials with high recycled content and produced within 500 miles of the site; open spaces with vegetation to reduce rainwater runoff; an energy-efficient heating and cooling system fed by on-site geothermal wells; the presence of natural light in living spaces; efficient showerheads, faucets and toilets; and energy-saving motors in all mechanical equipment.
Incorporating these features into North Village II also made good economic sense for Allegheny, said Boulton. “This project showed us that sustainable construction isn’t significantly more expensive than conventional construction,” she explained, “and the college will benefit from reduced energy expenses to operate the facility. North Village II is an investment that will pay dividends for many years to come.”
To learn more about sustainability initiatives at Allegheny — including the college’s commitment to supply 100 percent of its electricity with wind power beginning this year — visit allegheny.edu/green.