Paresky Commons Recieves Silver LEED Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently awarded a LEED Silver Certification to Paresky Commons for its environmentally conscious renovation process. The USGBC provides a standard for the construction of green buildings throughout the country. In an attempt to motivate communities to create environmentally sound buildings, the organization awards Silver, Gold and Platinum certificates to deserving structures. The food waste pulper-extractor and showers in the staffing area are two of the most environmentally friendly features of the building. Other energy conserving initiatives at Commons include efforts to compact and recycle cardboard and paper products. According to Michael Williams, Director of Facilities, over 1000 pounds of cardboard alone is recycled each week. Michael Giampa, Food Service Director at Paresky Commons, said, “The hydro-extractor that was built in the basement allows us to extract all of the water from the compost we collect upstairs and the send the compost off to farms to be reused.” “It’s a very energy intensive building but we did quite a bit to cut down its consumption,” said Williams. Williams also said that Commons’ “tray-less dining experience,” reuse of vegetable oils and environmentally safe cleaning products contribute to the building’s reduced carbon footprint. “[These efforts] also have proven to save thousands of pounds in waste,” he continued. Commons maintained environmentally friendly practices during the renovation process by recycling waste created from construction and purchasing environmentally safe primary materials. According to Williams, more than 90 percent of the construction, demolition and other debris from the renovation of Commons were recycled. Williams also said over 43 percent of the materials used during the renovation were manufactured within 500 miles of the construction site. 82 percent of the wooden materials used during construction were purchased from environmentally responsible suppliers. Common’s executives also plan to continue finding new ways to make it a more sustainable facility. “LEED does not consider food sourcing during their evaluations. But Mike Giampa and the team have changed the way we buy, prepare and serve food in Commons. And that is above and beyond what LEED looks at,” said Williams. Williams said, “The USGBC challenges us to do better in every aspect of the construction process. And that is why it is so effective.” “[The award] really is an affirmation of the school’s sustainable practices. [The certification] allows us to measure future projects according to this standard of what is green and what isn’t,” he continued. The renovated Commons was the first building on campus to apply for and receive the LEED certification. Those in charge of renovations were conscious to include ways to keep the building environmentally safe in the renovation designs and process. The renovations of Commons were a success in the eyes of both the overseers of the project and the leaders representing the USGBC. “We are pleased with the result of the renovations and we are certainly pleased with the certification received as a result,” said Williams. In upcoming years, new projects will take place across campus, such as the renovation of Bulfinch Hall and construction of the new crew boathouses. Because of the time and finances that the USGBC process requires, Williams and his colleagues are still considering whether these projects will be submitted for certification consideration. Williams said, “We will have to decide if the upcoming projects at Bulfinch and the boathouse will [be] LEED-qualifying projects or not because the application process begins in the design stages. But we now know that what we have been doing architecturally for the past ten years has been consistent with the expectations that the USGBC council has.”