Smeal LEED Certification

LEED certification process and requirements. links to green building

As part of the college’s commitment to sustainability leadership, Smeal has earned LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance gold certification, the first building to do so on any Penn State campus.

LEED LogoDeveloped by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a set of standards for sustainable building design, construction, and operation. The performance standards for existing buildings address multiple facets of sustainability, including building exterior and site maintenance programs, efficient and optimized use of energy and water, the purchase of environmentally preferred products and food, waste stream diversion and management, and ongoing indoor environmental quality. To achieve LEED certification, buildings must meet a series of prerequisites and achieve a minimum of 34 points. Smeal’s performance has greatly exceeded this threshold; we recently received gold certification, the second-highest certification level.

Certification Requirements

The LEED process embodies the “living laboratory” concept, using the building as a tool to engage numerous undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff on how sustainability applies to the world around them. Some of the sustainable features of Smeal include the following:

Exterior Features

  • Native and/or Adapted Vegetation: The plantings around the Smeal building are native to or adapted to the Pennsylvania climate. These plants need very little additional watering, so no potable water is used for irrigation.
  • Stormwater Management: As with all sites on the Penn State University Park campus, rainwater from Smeal’s site is diverted to the Fox Hollow Facility, where it is allowed to infiltrate at a very slow rate, preventing sinkhole formation and surface-water contamination.

Interior Features

  • Daylight: The many large windows at Smeal allow for most rooms to receive large quantities of natural daylight, improving the mood and productivity of building occupants.
  • Central Staircase: The central location and open design of Smeal’s central staircase promotes the use of the stairs and improves overall fitness and well being of building occupants.

Energy & Water Use Reductions

  • Supplied with heat and electricity from Penn State’s utility plant, Smeal takes advantage of co-generation, where heat and electricity are generated from the same process. The resulting efficiency is increased by Smeal’s energy-saving features, including occupancy sensors that turn off lights in empty rooms, ENERGY STAR certified appliances and electronic equipment, and LED lighting, resulting in a building whose energy use is 34% below that of comparable buildings.
  • The use of water efficient toilets, urinals, and faucets results in a 16.67% reduction in water use over buildings of the same size.

Sustainable Purchasing & Waste Diversion

  • The building’s management has committed to ensuring that a significant percentage of its everyday purchases meet sustainable criteria, reducing the impact of Smeal’s purchases on our resources. For instance, look for printer paper that has a high post-consumer recycled content and toner cartridges that are recyclable. Also, all electronics and appliances that are purchased for the building will be ENERGY STAR certified.
  • A higher percentage than ever of waste at Smeal is being recycled. The Mӧbius program is promoting the recycling of plastics, metals, glass, paper, and batteries. Food waste is also being composted. Here again, we are reducing Smeal’s impact on global resource use.

Green Cleaning

  • Penn State’s cleaning program is already far ahead of its peers in its efforts to be sustainable, and the LEED certification process has improved on those efforts. A new emphasis will be placed on purchasing sustainable cleaning products and equipment and on training cleaning staff on green cleaning methods to keep the building clean without harming the environment.
  • Penn State is instituting an Integrated Pest Management program, with the goal of preventing pest problems. If any unwanted critters do appear in the building, they will be dealt with using the least-toxic methods available, to reduce the potential impact on human health.

Other Sustainable Operations Practices

  • The use of chemical fertilizers on the lawn and garden beds around Smeal is being discontinued. Only organic compost will be used, thus eliminating a chemical exposure pathway.
  • Electric maintenance equipment will be used on the grounds whenever possible, reducing air emissions and fossil fuel use.
  • Smeal has always been a no-smoking building, but now smoking will not be allowed within 25 feet of any building entrance. This will keep the indoor air cleaner for everyone.
  • In the event of excess energy demand in the surrounding area (for instance, high temperatures causing a large power draw for air conditioning), Smeal’s energy use will be decreased to help meet the increased need. During a demand response event, non-essential systems will be reduced, thus providing power for other buildings to meet their essential needs.

The LEED green building certification program has made sustainability accessible to building owners and users, and by seeking LEED for Existing Buildings certification for Smeal, Penn State is committing to incorporate sustainability not only into its building operations, but also into the everyday lives of those who work and learn at Smeal.

The following are ways you can join us in our sustainability efforts:

  • Recycle all paper, glass, aluminum cans, and plastic bottles and food containers, and compost all vegetable matter
  • Purchase items with recycled content or energy-saving features, or items that are sourced or made locally
  • Examine your home and workplace for unnecessary power use, such as appliances or electronics that are left on when not in use
  • Exchange incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs or LED bulbs

Read the March 2016 news release.