Ann's House: Basking in the golden glow
If that golden glow from the hillside above campus seems a bit brighter, it might be because Ann’s House, Alfred University’s new 48-bed residence hall, has just been awarded Gold level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building certification by the United States Green Building Council.
“We are really excited, and pleased, to receive gold certification,” said Michael Neiderbach, executive director of capital projects for the University. During the design and construction phases for Ann’s House, he was predicting silver certification, but hoping to bring home the gold.
Ann’s House, which has 48 single rooms, arranged in two-room clusters with a shared bath, opened in fall 2009. It was built with a generous gift from Joel Moskowitz ’61, a long-time member of the Alfred University Board of Trustees, and his wife Ann for whom the residence hall is named. Earlier, the Moskowitzes had provided the funds for the renovation of the former Sigma Alpha Mu house into a University residence hall known as Joel’s House. Ann’s House was built with the Moskowitzes’ vision and commitment to the environment in mind.
Beyond basic LEED certification, there are three levels – silver, gold and platinum – with increasingly more stringent requirements, Neiderbach noted. In New York State, there are only 240 buildings, exclusive of private homes, that have achieved any level of certification.
Among the 240 certified projects, fewer than 10 percent are on college or university campuses, meaning Alfred University is in an elite group. Only three campuses have buildings with platinum certifications; six, including Alfred, have gold, and six have silver certifications. Some schools have more than one LEED-certified building.
Alfred University was able to achieve the gold certification by “going way above and beyond customary construction to make certain we were being environmentally friendly,” Neiderbach said. Over 65 percent of the wood used on the project was from forests certified for using sustainable forestry practices.
The carbon footprint of Ann’s House was reduced by purchasing over 30 percent of the materials from local or regional suppliers, and it also contained over 14 percent recycled materials. Rapidly renewable materials were used, and construction waste management practices included recycling of waste building materials.
Air quality was assured through the careful implementation of an indoor air quality management plan and the use of the low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint and flooring. .
The University installed LED lighting throughout the living spaces in Ann’s House. The move earned Alfred University designation as a Cree LED University, and helped to achieve another point in its progress toward gold certification.
By installing approximately 15 kW of solar panels on the roof, made possible by a grant from the New York State Energy Research Development Agency, and the purchase of renewable energy credits, Alfred University was able to significantly increase the project’s reliance on green energy sources. “We couldn’t have done it without the generosity of the Moskowitzes and help from our colleagues at NYSERDA,” Neiderbach said.
He also pointed out that “to the extent the building relies on conventional energy sources, we introduced conservation measures such as high-efficiency boilers capable of achieving 98 percent efficiency, and individual room thermostat controls so residents can dial down the heat.” Also, extra large windows with magnificent views enable residents to rely on natural daylight for much of their lighting needs.
To further advance the commitment to the green building ethos, the University’s Physical Plant implemented a “green” cleaning policy, using non-polluting cleaning products, campus-wide. That gained “innovation” credit for the project. Building on that green momentum, the University recently began purchasing hybrid vehicles for its fleet. Even AU’s President, Dr. Charles M. Edmondson and Neiderbach personally drive hybrid vehicles.
“We are on the move to make this an environmentally sustainable campus,” said President Edmondson, “and Ann’s House reflects our commitment.”