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June 14, 2010

New Smith College Building Honored for Green Design

Science and engineering building Ford Hall earns gold-level LEED Certification, a significant achievement for a laboratory-intensive building.

1NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Smith College recently joined a select group of institutions around the world when Ford Hall, its new science and engineering building, earned LEED Gold Certification. The distinction recognizes the facility’s environmentally sustainable design and construction and is a notable achievement for a laboratory facility.

The distinction by the U.S. Green Building Council acknowledges numerous initiatives that re-use or recycle resources and reduce the consumption of energy in the 140,000-square-foot building.

The $73 million home to engineering, computer science, molecular biology, chemistry and biochemistry was designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson architects and dedicated in October 2009. The largest and most sophisticated facility built exclusively for women science and engineering students, it opened to classes in early 2010.

“A commitment to resource stewardship and preservation is a powerful organizing principle in Smith College’s operational and curricular development,” said Smith President Carol T. Christ. “Ford Hall is a vivid manifestation of the college’s responsibilities to the nation and the world.”

Studies show that the operation of large buildings accounts for the majority of electricity consumption – 36 percent – in the United States. That is especially so with laboratory buildings where sophisticated research equipment such as super-chilled freezers and air-handling demands escalate energy usage.

“Achieving LEED Gold is a testament to Smith’s unwavering vision, which enabled us to assure it would happen,” said Robert T. Aumer, Jr., project architect at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

In the LEED rating system, points are awarded for design and construction measures that provide energy savings, water efficiency, carbon emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

2Of note, Ford Hall received the highest possible rating for its water efficiency measures. The building manages water consumption through ultra-low-flow fixtures and use of captured rainwater.

Construction of Ford Hall also reduced the overall stormwater runoff at the site by 25 percent through a sophisticated detention system, as well as a planted rooftop that encompasses 20,000 square feet.

Ford Hall also received high marks for its management of construction waste. The project diverted 2,482 tons – or 96 percent – of construction waste from the landfill through recycling agreements, an achievement that the organization noted meets the “exemplary performance requirement.”

The LEED Certification also cites the building’s energy-saving fixtures including high-efficiency electrical equipment and computer-monitored sensors for light, air and moisture control, as well as the building’s passive-energy design, which maximizes daylight exposure through optimum window and glass placement.

The LEED Gold Certification is the latest recognition for a building that is also notable because it is home to the nation’s first – and still the only accredited – engineering program at a women’s college.

Smith College educates women of promise for lives of distinction. One of the largest women’s colleges in the United States, Smith enrolls 2,800 students from nearly every state and 62 other countries. Thirty percent of Smith students major in the sciences. In the past 10 years, Smith has won more National Science Foundation funding for research—in excess of $14 million—than any other liberal arts college in the nation.

video Watch video on the impact of the new science buildling.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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