Clarkson University's new student center LEED certified for its energy efficiency, design innovation
Monday, November 5, 2012 - 9:13 am

POTSDAM -- Clarkson University’s new Student Center has received LEED Silver certification, due to its state-of-the-art construction processes, energy efficiency, and innovation in design.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building certification system, developed by the non-profit United States Green Building Council for high performance energy-efficient and environmentally friendly buildings.

"The commitment of our University community has enabled us to achieve yet another LEED certification," said Clarkson President Tony Collins. "This commitment to sustainability is found not only in the construction and operation of facilities like this, but in all of our Clarkson values and in the day-to-day activities of our students, faculty and staff."

"This LEED certification demonstrates Clarkson’s commitment to sustainable facilities and practices," said Ian Hazen, Clarkson director of Facilities and Services. "It is an outstanding achievement for our design and construction team: Perkins + Will (architect), PC Construction (contractor), Stantec (commissioning & energy consultant), and Clarkson University"

In 2010, Perkins + Will and PC Construction delivered a glass-bridged, three-story, 60,000-square-foot student center for the University’s 3,600 students.

"Sustainable design is part of all of our projects and is integral to our mission of honoring the broader goals of society," said Dana Anderson, principal of Perkins + Will. "We recognize the University’s commitment to innovative sustainable design solutions, expressed most notably by a Clarkson professor's invention of a new type of concrete masonry unit used in the Student Center project, which uses recycled glass to help minimize the Student Center’s carbon footprint.”

The overall material of the blocks, invented by a member of the Clarkson engineering faculty, included 20 percent recycled industrial glass. In all, 13 percent of the total building materials content was also manufactured using recycled materials. Historic Potsdam sandstone was also incorporated inside the center in honor of the University’s roots.

"This Student Center is the perfect mix of functionality and fun and was built to minimize the impacts on the environment," said Jim Bowie, project manager for PC Construction. "Through careful planning and execution we were able to exceed Clarkson’s 50 percent construction waste management and 10 percent regional material use goals by diverting 89 percent of waste from landfills and incorporating 20 percent regional materials into the construction of the project. Everyone plays a role in helping achieve the strict requirements of a LEED project, and Clarkson University’s new student center is a perfect example of that collaborative effort."

The "green" features of the Student Center include:

- water efficient landscaping

- low-flow water closets, urinals, and lavatory faucets

- energy efficiency measures like an improved thermal envelope, high efficiency glazing, reduced exterior lighting power, occupancy sensors, daylight control, and a high efficiency HVAC system

- bicycle storage and changing facilities

- and preferred parking for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles

The building, located between the Educational Resources Center (ERC) and Rowley Laboratories, is designed to reflect Clarkson’s commitment to the integration of learning and living, and to connect the built and natural worlds.

Linked by elevated glass-walled passageways to the ERC and other academic buildings east and west of it, the facility is also near residence complexes to the north and south. Filling 56,000 square feet on three levels, it offers space for student organizations and extracurricular social activities.

The building features an exterior of red brick, with sandstone accents and chimneys, as well as arched windows that resonate with Clarkson's historic Old Main building.

The facility houses study rooms and lounges, a large food service area, a cafe area with game room, conference and meeting rooms for student groups, a graduate student lounge, an international student lounge, a virtual game room, small grocery store, mail room, music practice rooms, meditation room, and facilities for the student newspaper, radio station, and television station.

The center’s largest interior space is a three-story amphitheater atrium (or forum) for concerts, entertainers, lecturers, large-screen broadcasts, and other student community-wide events. From a floor and stage area near the tall window wall, bench seats rise to mid-level, surrounded entirely by balconies on each of the three adjoining floor levels.

This project came about after students voted in 2006 to support a new student union. The goal was to unite student programs in one building and to link the new center to the other academic buildings on campus. Students were closely involved in planning and design. They even took the lead in funding the center with a pledge of more than $7 million over 10 years.

Earlier this year the Student Center was selected for the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) Facility Design Award of Excellence.