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Construction projects earn LEED gold, silver honors

View of the atrium in Schurman Hall

The north-facing, clerestory windows high above the new entrance, upper left, bathes the new atrium at the College of Veterinary Medicine in natural light. The project was certified as LEED gold.

Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine has earned gold and silver glory, all in the name of green.

The college’s $91.5 million Class Expansion Project was certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold in late May, while its Small Animal Community Practice service building was certified LEED silver in early June.

The U.S. Green Building Council conducts LEED accreditation, and these projects mark the 24th and 25th certifications on campus, pushing the university to more than 2 million square feet of indoor space that ultimately helps the environment.

“The architects, the contractors and the university worked very hard to meet the LEED requirements,” said Wayne A. Davenport, director of facilities at the College of Veterinary Medicine. “Now we have this beautiful space, and LEED helps you get there.”

To achieve LEED gold, the Class Expansion Project embraced high-tech approaches to sustainability. Daylight bathes the new atrium, thanks to north-facing, clerestory windows high above the new entrance. The solar control glass provides ample, functioning light to fend off summer’s solar heat, but when the sun goes down or disappears behind clouds, sensors turn on the indoor lighting, as needed.

The expansion project’s highly insulated roof, with the strong R value (insulation performance) of 40, minimizes winter heat loss. Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning energy is reduced by using heat exchangers and radiant cooled or heated slabs in the gallery, and demand-controlled ventilation throughout the new space.

High-efficiency, reduced-flow water fixtures are incorporated throughout the building, which saves water usage by 30 percent. Wood products throughout building were harvested from sustainably managed forests. Paints, adhesives, flooring, wood products and furnishings met strict requirements to reduce indoor air pollution and promote a healthy environment, and the project diverted more than 95% of demolition and construction waste away from landfill.

Davenport said the project made enough space to accommodate future class expansion, created a formal entrance off Tower Road and improved the pedestrian- circulation flow in the buildings.

“It’s fair to say that this atrium is now the heart of our college – our ‘living room,’ so to speak – where everybody goes,” said Davenport. “Our students, faculty and staff all meet there now. The expansion has transformed us. Striving for LEED certification helped to create a strong sense of community in the center of our college.”

On the other end of the college’s complex, the Small Animal Community Practice service building earned LEED silver certification. The building will provide

The Small Animal Community Practice service building earned LEED silver certification.

fourth-year veterinary students with a realistic view on working in a small-animal practice.

The facility refreshes a highly visible corner of the veterinary campus, replacing a poultry science area. “Site reuse is important,” said Matthew Kozlowski, the university’s green building program manager.

The clinic’s design offers water and energy use savings in a high-performance building, according to Kozlowski. The energy system operates 45% more efficiently and the plumbing reduces water usage by a one-third compared with similar buildings.

For the Class Expansion Project, the architectural firm was Weiss/Manfredi, New York City; the engineers were Altieri Sebor Wieber, Norwalk, Connecticut; and the LEED consultants were Atelier Ten, New York City.

For the community practice service building project, the architectural firm was Holt Architects, Ithaca and the engineers were M/E Engineering, Rochester, New York.

By Blaine Friedlander

This story originally appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.