The Greening of Gilman


When Gilman Hall reopens in summer 2010, the other buildings on campus will go green with envy—or rather, envy its green.

The ongoing renovation project stands to make Gilman the first LEED-certified building on the university’s Homewood campus. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance “green” buildings. The certification process promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

While some new campus buildings have been built to LEED standards, Gilman Hall will have Homewood’s first official stamp as a green building, according to Martin Kajic, Gilman project manager for the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

“We heard clearly from the student body and our Advisory Council that sustainability is very important, and of the strong desire to make LEED certification a part of the Gilman renovation,” Kajic says.

So what goes into the greening of Gilman?

Carolyn Hinger, Gilman project architect with R.M. Kliment & Frances Halsband Architects, says the LEED effort started on day one of the renovation and will continue into the life of the building.

“During the design process we are just scraping the surface of the LEED elements of this building,” she says. “A lot of what we need to do is still ahead of us.”

LEED certification works on a numerical system, with measures achieved scoring points on a checklist. The Gilman project will receive the basic level of certification, and early projections show a potential for it to reach a higher tier, called silver certification.

So far, the work has included recycling and salvaging building materials, including marble slabs to be reused later and wood doorframes and transoms that will be left in place. Fifty percent of the project’s uncontaminated construction waste will be diverted from landfills. A construction management plan will ensure that dust and chemicals are contained to protect stored materials and maintain the air quality of the worksite. A final air flush will take place just before the building reopens. “Sorry, no new building smell,” Hinger adds.

A major category in the LEED checklist refers to standards for materials and resources used in construction. A common thread throughout is the use of recycled products, which Gilman will have in abundance. For example, the concrete poured in the basement and the drywall used for temporary walls and partitions will contain recycled content.

The project also racks up several points for water and energy efficiencies. The building will be outfitted with low-flow plumbing fixtures to conserve water, and the mechanical systems will be both smart and major energy savers. Specifically, the building will feature high-performance windows, heat recovery units, fluorescent bulbs, and rooms with occupancy sensors that automatically shut off the lights when the last person leaves. On a sunny day, the lights will even know to go on gradually as natural light fades.

The finished product will feature much more natural light, another green feature and energy saver, according to Hinger.

The project wins LEED marks, too, for Gilman’s physical location on a public transit line, amid a densely developed urban area, and for the university’s use of water-efficient landscaping.

“There are many measures that are just inherent to the project,” Hinger says.

Much of Gilman’s new green character will be invisible, she says, so one won’t see huge solar panels or a green roof atop the historic structure.

“They are not the right thing for this building, which has a certain amount of character and heritage,” she says. “That is not to say the building can’t have highly energy-efficient mechanical systems. It will.”

Adam Falk, the James B. Knapp Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, says the work to renovate Gilman in an environmentally responsible manner is important, “because of its actual environmental impact and the larger message it sends about the university’s values.

“The new Gilman Hall should speak to the future, both in terms of the teaching and scholarship that it will support and what the building itself will come to signify,” Falk says.

 

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