Passersby may be struck by Weill Hall’s sleek, white veneer, but those who take a closer look may be impressed by the building’s green. Last week, Weill became one of only six university laboratory buildings to receive a “gold” certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. The certification is determined by the U.S. Green Building Council, which awards buildings that achieve at least 39 points (out of 69) in categories such as indoor environmental quality, water efficiency, and energy consumption.
Weill’s special features include reflective sidewalks and surfaces to reduce heat, a green living roof that absorbs rainwater, and occupation-sensor lighting to conserve energy. Keeping energy use down was Cornell’s highest LEED priority, according to Steve Beyers, Services Team Lead and one of the project team’s LEED accredited professionals. “Science buildings use a lot of energy, so efforts to cut down on energy really pay off,” he said. Beyers and others worked in concert with the New York State Energy Research and Developent Authority (NYSERDA), which is looking to invest in new technology that reduces energy consumption.
Much of Weill’s LEED certification was due to construction efforts, rather than design. The construction team used a high percentage of recycled and local materials and recycled most of its own construction debris. “At first, our opinion was that it would be difficult to score in the LEED system,” Stundtner said. But when students and faculty pressed the team to inquire further into the possibility, “it looked like we could pretty easily get certified.”
Despite earlier predictions the building would receive only a silver rating, Beyers says the team “had gold in the sights two years ago.” Weill received full credit in the innovation and design category in part because of its context within Cornell’s broader sustainability efforts, such as effective transportation and Lake Source Cooling. “Innovation,” said Beyers, “is kind of what we’re about.”