Story by Christine Grillo
Founded 13 years ago with the mission of promoting sustainability in farming, eating and living, the Center for a Livable Future (CLF) faced a new sustainability challenge last year: renovation.
Anticipating its move to a new office suite, CLF’s director, Robert Lawrence, leapt at a suggestion from Facilities Management to aim high with an environmentally low-impact renovation. By using demolition and construction practices intended to reduce, reuse and recycle, the team had a shot at earning Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED program is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.
To qualify, CLF would have to meet USGBC goals in water efficiency, energy and materials, among other categories. Four levels of certification—certified, silver, gold and platinum—are awarded on the basis of a point system.
“It was a terrific learning experience for us,” says Michael Schoeffield, director of Facilities Management. “This was our first LEED project, and we were fortunate to have a good team to cut our teeth on the process.” Both the architect and the engineer had worked on LEED jobs already, and the Facilities team found that a lot of their building standards already were LEED-compliant. Applications used routinely by the Bloomberg School, such as low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint and carpet tiles with recycled content earned points toward certification, as did the School’s energy-saving devices such as light-sensors.
During the renovation, the team earned credit by recycling demolition materials; installing an energy-efficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning unit; installing a sophisticated lighting system that dims and brightens according to indoor light levels; and using insulation made from recycled blue jeans, instead of fiberglass.
When the project was completed, the team had scored enough points for gold Commercial Interior certification. Now the Facilities Management team plans to consider LEED certification in any major renovation.
“Although the focus of CLF is on food systems,” says Lawrence, MD, the Center for a Livable Future Professor in Environmental Health Sciences, “we have a broader commitment to the concept of sustainability.” The Center is determined to practice what it preaches, he says.
Schoeffield would love to see sustainability become more ingrained at the School. “I’d love to see the School be as close to the cutting edge of environmentally friendly practices as possible,” he says. “If the environment fails, I can’t imagine any bigger public health problem than that.”
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