Sustainability Column: A Look at Benton Hall

Maggie Dunn, Colgate Sustainability Intern

Benton Hall is finally here. We’ve heard many good things about the sustainability of Benton Hall and that it is on track to achieve LEED Platinum certification, but why is that important? Colgate has made it their standard that each new building and renovation done has to have achieved at least a LEED Silver certification. However, that raises the question: What does it mean to get a building LEED certified?

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is a certification system that rates the sustainability of buildings. A building can achieve various ratings in LEED, ranging from LEED certified to LEED Platinum certified. The ratings are based on a points system through which buildings can earn points when their builders choose to construct in ways that are sustainable or with sustainable materials.

So what makes Benton LEED? While there are no solar panels or wind turbines (what we typically think of as “green indicators”) to be seen, Benton remains the most sustainable building on campus. The biggest contributing factor to the sustainability of the building is its “envelope,” or outer shell. So much heat energy is lost through the walls and windows of buildings, so by making Benton’s envelope more effective, its builders were able to significantly decrease energy losses. Benton also has much more efficient windows, meaning that increasing the natural light in the building will not sacrifice heat energy in the winter. Sustainable wood and interactive technologies also adorn the building’s interior, making it beautiful and inviting.

Trudy Fitness Center was Colgate’s first building on campus to become LEED certified. Earning 60-79 points on the LEED scale, Trudy Fitness Center was awarded a ranking of Gold. Colgate’s Class of 1965 Arena also enjoys a gold certification. Lathrop Hall, which was recently renovated, earned a LEED certification with points somewhere in the range of 40-49.

Colgate won’t be stopping there. John Pumilio, Colgate Director of Sustainability, is hungry for more and already has more plans to achieve LEED with other buildings on campus. After facing disappointment when the renovation of Stillman did not include plans to achieve LEED, Pumilio and Colgate’s builders have plans for the new buildings on campus. The senior dorms, set to finish construction next year, are located behind Andrews Hall and will house around 100 students. The plans for these dorms are adhering to LEED Silver standards per Colgate’s new guidelines, and will also include room for classrooms, offices and lounges. Dana Arts Center is also in the beginning stages of renovation and more information on the LEED status it will achieve will come with time.

It is important for faculty to hold sustainability as a high priority when renovating or constructing new buildings. In the face of climate change, we can no longer afford to compromise on sustainability. If other buildings follow in the green footsteps of Benton, Colgate will continue to make strides towards its goal of carbon neutrality.

Contact Maggie Dunn at [email protected].