The U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in building design and operation, has certified four new Westmont buildings as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold. The LEED designations highlight the sustainable construction and energy-saving systems used at Winter Hall for Science and Mathematics, Adams Center for the Visual Arts, the central plant and the observatory.
Randy Jones, Westmont director of campus planning, says the college has always been committed to sustainable construction and energy-savings methods.
“We were pleased by the LEED Gold certifications,” Jones says. “It shows the community that we are serious about being good stewards of the environment. These buildings are very efficient and will have many long-term, positive impacts on the campus for years to come.
Instead of installing huge mechanical systems, Jones says architect Ken Radtkey wanted to design a more natural system. “Our points aren’t based on a design utilizing an exceptionally technical system,” Jones says. “In fact, all the buildings have many spaces that are naturally ventilated and lighted.”
The council’s praise isn’t solely focused on the buildings. The college scored points for its innovative design and development of the site. “It’s a program that sets individual buildings into a larger campus system, incorporating native plants and water-efficient landscaping so that everything works together,” Jones says.
The analysis noted the college’s restoration of habitats, capturing of storm water and reduction of light pollution. Workers also recycled construction waste and other materials. The college chose carpets, paints and adhesives that are environmentally-friendly.
“All those things make Westmont a unique place,” Jones says. “This is a reflection of simply taking care of the land. It’s not a burden — it’s something we’re delighted to do.”
Others are beginning to take notice of the green buildings. Jones spoke to Westmont’s student-led environmental club. Plaques will soon be installed at the buildings, calling people’s attention to the awards. “Because we have four LEED buildings on campus, some design professionals are interested in using them as teaching tools and have asked to come and tour the campus,” Jones says.
Winter Hall is a three-level structure that encompasses 48,000 square feet of classrooms, offices and laboratories. The center of the structure is open so natural light can cascade down to all levels.
Adams Center, which houses the Westmont Museum of Art, is a three-level structure nestled into the hillside just below the library. The 31,000-square-foot building extends from west to east, allowing the classrooms, studios and offices to be naturally lighted and ventilated. Both Winter and Adams feature landscaped roof decks.