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September 9, 2002

Whitehead Building in the LEED

By Nancy Seideman

The Whitehead Biomedical Research Building has become the first building in the Southeast to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Whitehead is one of just 24 buildings in the nation to attain LEED certification, a rigorous process that evaluates the environmental sustainability of building design, construction and operation. The $82.7 million, 325,000-square-foot Whitehead Building opened in November 2001.

“Emory is proud of our commitment to a ‘green’ building program,” said President Bill Chace. “It is absolutely necessary that major institutions take an environmentally sustainable approach in planning and development given the challenges we all face regarding declining air quality, depletion of natural resources and traffic congestion.”

Emory has ambitious aspirations when it comes to the LEED program. The University is seeking certification for two other major academic, research and medical buildings—the Mathematics and Science Center, which opened this summer, and the Winship Cancer Institute, scheduled for completion in fall 2003.

In fact, the University currently has 10 projects that will be submitted for LEED certification, or that are being designed, renovated or constructed according to LEED principles, for a total of about 1.1 million square feet—or 25 acres. Emory also has been selected to participate in a pilot program to assess the effectiveness of applying LEED principles to existing structures.

The Board of Trustees recently endorsed LEED for use as a guiding principle in the development of all the University’s construction and renovation projects.

“LEED makes good business sense,” said Robert Hascall, senior associate vice president for Facilities Management. “The initial cost of a greener building is recovered through lower operating costs throughout its life cycle, particularly in the area of energy savings. There’s also evidence that green buildings increase employee productivity, reduce rates of sick leave, increase the rate at which students learn and improve employee morale.”

The LEED system focuses on five areas in the design and construction of environmentally friendly structures: building site selection and erosion control; water efficiency; energy and atmosphere; materials and resources; and indoor environmental quality.

Emory’s green building program is one of the University’s many environmental initiatives, which include an extensive alternative transportation program, the creation and continued development of a core walking campus, and a nationally recognized recycling program.