Niagara University’s B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences has earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification – Gold Rating from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED is an internationally recognized standard for evaluating the performance of green buildings, created by the USGBC. LEED takes a whole-building approach to environmentally sustainable design and construction in six areas, including:
- Sustainable sites: location, transit access, parking, urban heat islands.
- Water efficiency: no irrigation, water efficient plumbing fixtures.
- Energy and atmosphere: highly efficient building envelope and equipment.
- Materials and resources: recycling of construction waste, local and recycled materials.
- Indoor environmental quality: materials with low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
- Innovation in design: green cleaning, educational program, low-VOC furniture.
The state-of-the-art, $33 million facility opened to Niagara University faculty and students at the beginning of the fall 2013 semester. Posters are situated throughout the building denoting its sustainable design. The 50,000-square-foot integrated science center houses 18 laboratories, which are supported by designated areas for nuclear magnetic resonance, tissue culture, imaging, plant growth, radioisotope storage, and numerous other functions. Two of the labs, in particular, demonstrate the integrative nature of the building, with biology and chemistry possessing shared research labs that are arranged to increase collaboration between the scientific disciplines. In addition to the comprehensive laboratory space, the Golisano Center features two classrooms on the first floor – a 56-seat lecture hall and a 20-seat seminar room. On the second floor is a 20-seat conference room. Golisano, the Paychex chairman and philanthropist, made a $10 million lead commitment to help make the project possible. According to the USGBC’s website, achieving LEED certification is a top sustainable goal for both private and public organizations, with LEED Gold certification being set as the goal for a majority of the organizations. Additionally, green buildings consume less energy. Compared to the average commercial building, the LEED Gold buildings in the General Services Administration’s portfolio generally:
- Consume 25 percent less energy and 11 percent less water.
- Have 19 percent lower maintenance costs.
- 27 percent higher occupant satisfaction.
- 34 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions.
(Data courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy (2011), Re-Assessing Green Building Performance: A Post Occupancy Evaluation of 22 Buildings.) LEED awards certification at the Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum level based on the achievements of the building. In April, Niagara University was named one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the U.S. and Canada by The Princeton Review. The guide’s profile on Niagara University says that the school “has outlined a thorough set of goals that include developing new sustainability-related educational programs, environmentally responsible practices, energy conservation, recycling, green building project initiatives, and a conscientious self-evaluation of what Niagara is doing to protect the environment. The campus boasts both a LEED-certified, 55,000-square-foot academic complex and the Dwyer Ice Arena, equipped with 25-kilowatt roof solar panels. Bike racks, a new bike path and a free shuttle bus show NU’s commitment to green transportation. The university has policies in place to use only green cleaning products and recycled paper, and a whopping 98 percent of NU’s electricity is purchased from a hydroelectric generator! With all its green initiatives, it seems NU’s plan to go carbon neutral by 2050 is more reality than dream.”