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Lehigh goes green, earns gold

The STEPS building was designed to facilitate collaborative learning.

Lehigh University recently learned that the new STEPS building, which opened last August and was officially dedicated in March, has earned LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold status by the U.S. Green Building Council. It is the first building on the Lehigh campus to earn this distinction.

Characterizing the STEPS building as a “wonderful manifestation of Lehigh's commitment to environmental awareness and responsibility,” Associate Vice President for Facilities and Campus Planning Tony Corallo says that he and his team were pleased and excited to learn of the honor.

"Achieving the LEED Gold designation for such a complicated laboratory building is quite an accomplishment. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the entire project team—which included, among others, architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, engineers Flack & Kurtz and the Alvin H. Butz, Inc. construction management company. Their expertise, dedication and perseverance made this award possible,” says Corallo, who oversaw the design and construction of the state-of-the-art, 135,000-square-foot building at the corner of West Packer Avenue and Vine Street.

Rick Redrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council, says the work of innovative building projects such as the STEPS building is a fundamental driving force in the movement toward green building programs and practices.

“The green building movement offers an unprecedented opportunity to respond to the most important challenges of our time, including global climate change, dependence on non-sustainable and expensive sources of energy and threats to human health,” Fedrizzi says.

The $62.1 million STEPS facility houses classrooms, faculty and staff offices, public spaces and teaching and research labs, and was designed to facilitate collaborative learning. It was constructed with the goal of attaining LEED certification, which is considered the gold standard for sustainable architecture.

Green features incorporated into the design began with the site selection—which preserved a large portion of the original green lawn space—and also included lighting considerations that maximized natural daylight potential, an energy recovery system, water conservation features, a vegetated roof, Zero VOC (volatile organic compounds) materials in paints and carpet, the use of sustainable materials in construction and design, waste reduction features and sustainable building systems. Visit the STEPS web site for more information on green features.

The gold-level LEED certification will be noted on campus through USGBC-provided plaques that will be mounted in the A wing and the atrium of the STEPS building

Visit the U.S. Green Building Council web site for more information on green building and LEED certification.

Photo by Ryan Hulvat

Story by Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Tuesday, September 06, 2011

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