The U.S. Green Building Council (USGB) recently notified Salem State University that the school’s newest residential building has earned an environmentally friendly status.
Marsh Hall, which was opened for occupancy in March 2010, has received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the USGB.
LEED certification has three levels – silver, gold or platinum level – and is based on a point system that tracks the sustainability and energy efficiency features of a building. Marsh Hall is Salem State University’s first building to achieve such a designation.
“Our hope when we began construction of this newest ‘green’ student residence facility on campus, was that upon completion it would achieve LEED certification of silver or higher,” said Salem State University president Patricia Maguire Meservey in a recent announcement. “To achieve gold is a testament to the university's strong commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability, a commitment strongly endorsed by our student population.”
Marsh Hall features solar panels on green roofs that are completely covered in vegetation. It also incorporates 10,000 square feet of bamboo throughout the building, water-saving toilets, substantial use of recycled materials, energy saving mechanical systems and a vegetated swale water system, which contain shallow channels with vegetation covering the sides. They can serve as storm water drainage systems that can replace gutters and storm sewer systems.
“More important than the simple designation, however, is its recognition of the importance of sustainable design in an academic environment where future leaders are trained and the need to reduce the use of fossil fuels,” said Ed Adelman, executive director of the Massachusetts State College Building Authority in a recent announcement. “The lower long-term operating costs, which will result in less upward pressure on future rents to pay utility bills, is also significant.”
LEED-certified buildings are typically expected to lower operating costs and increase asset value, reduce the amount of construction waste sent to landfills, conserve energy and water, be healthier and safer for residents, and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.