Go Green: U of R residence hall earns LEED Gold Certification

When it came to the design and construction of the University of Rochester's new residence hall, the focus was on sustainability.

O'Brien Hall opened up to students in the fall of 2012.  Jonathan McCann is the U of R's Project Manager for Campus Planning, Design and Construction Management.  He oversaw the project.  "This area was completely transformed by this project," he said, standing outside the new residence hall.  "Essentially you're standing in what was a parking lot."

Upon completion, O'Brien Hall received LEED Gold Certification.  LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  The LEED Rating System is a national benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.  "The LEED Gold Certification was one of the major objectives of the project, and to achieve it was fantastic," said McCann.

Nearly 30 percent of the building materials for O'Brien Hall came from recycled sources.  The residence hall uses 26 percent less energy than a baseline building.  High performance insulation foam, individual thermostats, sensors to reduce off hours lighting and to limit water usage in faucets are among the innovative features.

The green enhancements aren't just inside the building, they're outside as well.  Bioretention basins collect 80 percent of storm water.  There's also a high-efficiency LED lights, a second story green roof and, on top, a reflective white roof.  "By reflecting that energy back up into the atmosphere we reduce the amount of cooling necessary to cool the building during the summer months," noted McCann.

There's a room just for bikes and windows in the stairwell, dorm rooms and common areas, like the Performing Arts space, to invite sunlight and a greener lifestyle. "We have a beautiful building that encourages a sense of community with our students," said McCann. "It's a great place to live, people are excited about it, students are excited about it and the University is excited about it."

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