Kelly Commons Achieves LEED Gold Certification

The newest building on campus, the Kelly Commons, has now formally become the “greenest” as well.

While the connecting hub between north and south campus has been officially open for use since October, it was recently granted the LEED Gold Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Vanessa Sanchez/The Quadrangle
Vanessa Sanchez/The Quadrangle

“LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices,” according to the council’s website.

Gold is the second highest certification that a building project can receive. The four possible levels (Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum) are based on a rating system that utilizes points in separate categories such as water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and innovation in design.

The commons is the first building on Manhattan College’s campus to achieve any level of LEED certification, an accomplishment that was a goal since the early days of the project and formation of the initial plans.

“Since the beginning, the college always had a goal of obtaining LEED certification for the building,” Andrew Ryan, vice president for facilities, said.

LEED certification is granted to buildings based on a point system, where a 60-point minimum is required to achieve the LEED Gold standard. Upon completion of the certification and commissioning process, the building received a score of 62 points.

Points are earned for various environmental considerations within the design of the building. During the course of the project, a rough target of 64 to 65 points was set based on the proposed design of the building and materials to be used.

Some notable green features of the building that helped to achieve the necessary points for a Gold certification include a partial green roof.

The roof utilizes 4,000 square feet of partial vegetation and light colored reflective materials that help reduce the heat is land effect—the buildup of excess heat in urban areas due to dark colored roofing and pavement.

Additionally, the commons has an automated heating and cooling system that adjusts automatically to time of day, outside air temperature and building occupancy levels using sensors placed throughout the building.

“It actually learns and is an intelligent system,” Ryan said.

In a similar manner, the interior lighting system uses motion sensors coupled with automatic window shades that respond to outside light conditions in order to maximize the use of natural daylight.

For water conservation efforts, low flow fixtures were placed throughout the commons, as well as water bottle filling stations that have already been in place in Horan Hall and the Leo Engineering Building.

“Overall, we achieved by design about 52 percent reduction in water use in the building compared to a standard building of the same size and same use,” Ryan said.

While a significant accomplishment, the LEED Gold certification of the commons has been only part of the recent efforts made by Manhattan College to become more sustainable.

The college recently spent in excess of $2 million on energy conservation measures that included retrofitting light fixtures, installing pipe insulation and replacing steam traps around campus.

A growing trend in the architecture and construction industries, environmentally conscious and efficient design is also being taught inside the same classrooms at MC that are being upgraded.

Nicole Leo Braxtan, Ph.D. and assistant professor in the college’s department of civil and environmental engineering, teaches an introductory class on green building techniques and sustainable design.

“Sustainability and the green building movement continue to gain momentum in the design and construction of new infrastructure around the world,” Leo Braxtan said.

“This [achieving LEED Gold certification] signifies a great step in Manhattan College’s path toward a sustainable future and supports the college’s initiatives for campus sustainability.”