Opened last summer, the new "green" residence hall for Columbia Theological Seminary students has earned the prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification by the United States Green Building Council. It is the first facility in Decatur, GA, to earn LEED Gold Certification and is expected to use approximately 50 percent less energy than a conventionally constructed facility.
"Taking care of God's creation has always been a biblical priority, but not always a priority of the Church," said Columbia's president, Steve Hayner. "Environmental stewardship was a key factor as we planned this new residence hall, and we're excited that the structure has now been LEED certified for its ecologically friendly design."
The architecture firm of Lord, Aeck & Sargent designed the three-story structure which includes studio, one-, two- and four-bedroom apartments, a recreation and workout area accessible to students, faculty, and staff; a community kitchen with indoor and outdoor seating and fireplaces, a laundry area for residents, and mechanical and facilities support spaces. "Green" design strategies include an exterior building envelope with above-average insulation values, energy efficient windows, and a geothermal mechanical system which will provide low operating costs and a long lifecycle.
In addition, the residence hall's orientation minimizes east and west exposures to reduce sun angles, thus reducing unwanted glare and heat gain. Nearby trees provide natural sun shading from the south. Large windows take advantage of natural light as much as possible, provide access to views and use sunscreens to reduce direct solar gain where appropriate. To improve energy efficiency, lighting includes motion sensor switching, energy efficient lamps.
Water efficiencies include rainwater collection for landscape irrigation, and water saving plumbing fixtures. Indoor air quality is protected through the use of low VOC adhesives and coatings. Recycled and regional construction materials were used, and construction waste was recycled and reused to the greatest extent possible.
Photos: Jonathan Hillyer