Students while taking the LEED Lab class. MANHATTAN.EDU/COURTESY
By: Brooke DellaRocco, Staff Writer
Manhattan College’s very own Raymond W. Kelly ‘63 Student Commons has been awarded the Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for the second time since 2015.
However, this isn’t the only building on campus that has been awarded for its excellence in sustainability. Higgins Engineering and Science center also holds a LEED Gold title since the building opened in 2021.
LEED provides certifications originating from the U.S. Green Building Council, which grades certain buildings on how sustainable they are using a series of categories outlining the important factors. Some categories they deliberate on include water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, material and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation.
At least 60 points are to be accumulated on the scorecard to reach LEED Gold status. In 2015, MC’s highest scoring category for sustainability was in water efficiency, where Kelly commons had 10 out of 10 points. One of the main ways this was achieved was by putting in faucets for all water services that use less water.
Another high scoring category was indoor environmental quality, where Kelly Commons scored 12 out of 15 points.They kept the indoors environmentally friendly by installing a rooftop garden that actually absorbs the sunlight in the summer, which allows for the building to use less air conditioning and preserve that energy to be used somewhere else.
LEED praises Kelly Commons’ design on their website writing, “As the college’s first LEED building on campus, it boasts many green features, including: a green roof, regional materials and recycled content, enhanced commissioning, high-efficiency lighting design, occupancy-based lighting and HVAC, demand-based ventilation, variable speed refrigerant system, high-efficiency condensing boilers, installation of hydration stations, and low-flow bathroom fixtures.”
Manhattan College is one of the few schools that are consistently working with the U.S. Green Building Council and updating their facilities to go more green.
The dean of the O’Malley School of Business, Don Gibson, Ph.D., commented on the honor that it has been to be a part of this community.
“Our interest is certainly in having Manhattan College recognized as a leading business school,” Gibson said. “I think doing initiatives like this helped with that recognition. Let’s get the word out about what we have going on here at Manhattan College and the O’Malley School of Business.”
The O’Malley School of Business has actively worked with the facilities team as well as Richard Ross, graduate director of the Master of Business Administration program, and co-director of the Master of Business Administration Program for Accounting and CIS & Law, to make the required changes in the building to promote sustainability.
Students enrolled in a course called Real Estate Capstone, commonly known as LEED Lab, become part of the process of promoting a healthy environment. This class is open to undergraduate students and graduate students, where peers can further their knowledge about why sustainability and energy conservation is important.
“The class has two parts,” Ross said. “One part is learning about the LEED philosophy, so to speak, and all those different categories that are referred to. So you spend half the class learning about LEED itself, and why sustainability is important and global warming and climate change and so forth.”
During the second half of the class, students discuss different pieces of the building that they are focusing on, and talk about how it would fit into those LEED categories or how they can improve.
Luis Gartner McBain, a graduate student, took the class in the spring semester of 2023, and now currently works in construction as an assistant project manager for Blackstone 360. McBain expressed his love for the class and how he enjoyed the bonus of having hands-on experience.
“One of the parts that I enjoyed the most of all the tests was actually knowing how the University is working,” McBain said. “I’ve never been into all those mechanical rooms where they have all that equipment. I have never been into that so when we were able to go and walk through them, that was very cool.”
McBain also expressed his pride in being a helping hand in this process and learning such important values that he still uses today at his job.
“So actually right now in my job sites where I work, I was thinking maybe we can just go and try to apply for one of those (LEED certifications). Because maybe we can comply with a lot of requirements,” McBain said.
Being awarded a second time for Kelly Commons is an honor to the school, as it also shows students the importance of sustainability to the college.
“The School of Business and the college emphasizes sustainability; environmental sustainability is a high priority,” Gibson said. “And this is an example of putting our money where our mouth is, it is building buildings that are sustainable.”
In the coming years, the Higgins Science Center and Kelly Commons are hoping to continue upgrading facilities to promote more sustainability. There is also an emphasis on trying to update the older buildings on campus to get them running similarly to LEED’s protocol.
Ross recommended students to take the LEED Lab course.
“Every student is going to be a property owner or property caretaker,” Ross said. “And in those decisions, you will be given options as to whether to choose the more sustainable route or the more wasteful route. This will not only make you a better real estate executive, this will make you a better homeowner.”