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Founders Hall Earns LEED Gold Certification from U.S. Green Building Council

(Posted December 21, 2009)

About half of the original 1879 Founders Hall building was saved and restored. The architects for the project, Street Dixon Rick of Nashville, Tenn., designed the restoration project as a LEED building.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. --Founders Hall, Juniata College's first campus building, built in 1879, has been certified as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) "Gold" building by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Founders Hall is the second LEED-certified building for Juniata. In 2004, Shuster Hall, the multipurpose building at the college's Raystown Field Station was certified as a green building. There are four designations that an individual building project can earn: certified, silver, gold and platinum.

The Founders Hall project was designed by Street Dixon Rick, a Nashville, Tenn.-based architectural firm, and built by general contractor Leonard S. Fiore Inc., an Altoona, Pa. firm, mechanical contractor D.C. Goodman and Sons, based in Huntingdon, Pa., and many other subcontractors.

"One of the most impressive things about Founders Hall and its 'green' rating is that we were able to save a great deal of the original 19th century building and bring it up to modern environmental standards," says Juniata College President Thomas Kepple. "Founders' 'Gold' rating is a testament to our facilities staff, the contractors who worked on the building and the architects who designed the building."

The LEED Green Building Rating System is a voluntary consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. The system was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to define common standards for rating "green" buildings and to promote integrated, whole-building design. LEED was created to recognize environmental leadership and stimulate green building competition in the building industry, as well as raise consumer awareness for the benefits of green buildings.

"One of the most impressive things about Founders Hall and its 'green' rating is that we were able to save a great deal of the original 19th century building and bring it up to modern environmental standards. Founders' 'Gold' rating is a testament to our facilities staff, the contractors who worked on the building and the architects who designed the building."
Tom Kepple, Juniata president

LEED provides a thorough framework for assessing building performance in their rating system. Each building submitted for a LEED rating earns points in various categories. Some of the major criteria considered in a LEED rating are: site selection, sustainable site development, water savings, water-efficient landscaping, green power, building reuse, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

"Sustainability is an integral part of the culture at Juniata College, so it was natural during the planning stages to consider the building's role in that effort," says Baird Dixon, architect and partner, Street Dixon Rick Architecture. Dixon was the architect for Founders Hall and with Carly Wansing was project manager at Street Dixon Rick for the project. "Initially, the goal was basic LEED certification, because of concerns about cost control during the renovation of a 130-year old structure. Because of the total commitment of everyone involved, however, we kept finding more and more ways to make the building greener. The recent award of LEED Gold is a very significant achievement for the design and construction team, and for Juniata College," Dixon adds.

The Founders Hall renovation, completed for $8.5 million in July, had its grand opening on Homecoming Weekend Oct. 30-Nov. 1. Founders Hall is unique in that a building that is more than a century old has been retrofitted with environmentally conscious technology and combined with a modern addition.

The iconic central tower was completely gutted and reinforced with a steel superstructure and stairway. All the steel for the reinforced tower was brought in through the existing tower windows and assembled inside the building.

Among its other environmentally green features are:

--All restrooms have waterless urinals and toilets have a solid and liquid flushing option.

--Low-energy lights that use motion sensors to turn themselves off.

--The project reused recycled building materials from the deconstruction of the north wing of Founders. The construction crew of L.S. Fiore, of Altoona, Pa., recycled parts of the demolished wing and reused some of the materials in other projects.

--A geothermal heating and cooling system will provide heating and cooling energy needs for Founders Hall and send any supplemental excess energy to the Von Liebig Center for Science.

--Lights in the glass-enclosed public stairwells are on photo-sensitive circuits that will turn the lights on only when conditions get dark enough to trigger the circuit.

--The building also uses materials that are either recycled or renewable resources. The "slate" roof shingles are actually made from recycled rubber. The flooring in lounges and other spaces is renewable cork and public desks and some other furniture are faced with renewable bamboo.

--Rainwater falling onto the roof is directed by the gutter system into a large cistern and reused.

The newly restored building houses the college's advancement offices on the first, or ground, floor. The second floor houses the registrar's office, the dean of students' office and the academic support services offices, as well as the office for the vice president of finance and operations.

The third floor features the offices of the president and the provost, as well as the offices housing the history faculty. The English department offices occupy the fourth floor. The third and fourth floors also feature classrooms and seminar rooms.

Student lounges and conference rooms will be housed in a glass-enclosed "tower" space on the east end of the restored original wing that replaces a former brick stairway enclosure.

The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for the United States through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

Buildings in the United States are responsible for 39 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, 40 percent of energy consumption, 13 percent of water consumption and 15 percent of the nations gross domestic product.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.