February 1, 2010

LEEDing the way to a greener JHU

East Baltimore building first in university to receive certification

In the renovated basement floor of the East Baltimore campus’s 2024 E. Monument St. Building, Jack Grinnalds and Richard Sebour stand next to the plaque that marks it as the first location in the university to achieve LEED status. Photo: Will Kirk/Homewoodphoto.jhu.edu

In the renovated basement floor of the East Baltimore campus’s 2024 E. Monument St. Building, Jack Grinnalds and Richard Sebour stand next to the plaque that marks it as the first location in the university to achieve LEED status. Photo: Will Kirk/Homewoodphoto.jhu.edu

In Johns Hopkins’ quest to go green and significantly reduce its environmental footprint, the university has passed a major milestone.

The School of Medicine recently received a LEED commercial interior silver certification for its renovated Department of Facilities Management offices and Clinical Information Systems Education Center—both located on the basement floor of the 2024 E. Monument St. Building—making it the first location in the university to achieve LEED status of any kind.

First, but not last.

The School of Medicine has submitted four more of its buildings for LEED certification: the Ross Research Building, the Broadway Research Building and the Cancer Research Buildings I and II. The school hopes to achieve LEED existing building certification for these structures.

In addition, no fewer than four other university buildings on three campuses are on track to achieve the environmental stamp of approval sometime this year, and more are expected to receive the go-ahead soon.

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance “green” buildings. The certification process, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

The certification works on a numerical system, with measures achieved scoring points on a checklist. Points are awarded and are weighted to reflect the degree of environmental impact, with platinum being the highest level of certification. The three classes of certification that are relevant to Johns Hopkins’ efforts are new construction, existing building and commercial interiors.

Designers of the 2024 E. Monument St. space earned 30 points by reusing and recycling its furniture, recycling disposable materials during renovation and streamlining work spaces and restrooms, among other features.

The leadership in Facilities Management saw this certification process as an opportunity to continue to foster the school’s sustainability efforts. The office space’s lighting, color scheme and decorations were also changed to brighten the environment and boost morale and productivity.

Jack Grinnalds, senior director of Facilities Management for the School of Medicine, said that “it’s important that Facilities Management be a leader in the institutions’ sustainability efforts to improve the environment, reduce energy costs and improve the operational efficience in our buildings.”

The project, led by the architecture firm of Hord Coplan & Macht and Facilities Management, began in April 2008 following the decision to consolidate Facilities Management’s offices and relocate them to the basement level of the 2024 E. Monument St. Building.

In its efforts to earn LEED certification for four of its other buildings, the school is making the necessary changes to its integrated pest management system, cleaning program and storm water management system, an effort that provides unique challenges given the urban environment. The school is also working on improving its recycling facilities and lighting fixtures, as well as reconfiguring computer systems to minimize energy use.

“LEED requires us to think green even in our urban environment,” said Richard Sebour, the greening project leader and director of support services in Facilities Management. “Whereas space is at a minimum, we [still] needed to revamp our recycling and waste disposal systems for more sustainable efficiency.”

The four other Johns Hopkins facilities that have been registered for LEED certification are Gilman Hall at Homewood, the Bernstein-Offit Building in Washington, D.C., the Center for a Livable Future office space at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and Building 200 at the Applied Physics Laboratory. The ruling on certification for all these facilities is expected sometime this year.

James Loesch, the plant facilities chief engineer and project management office supervisor at APL, said that the Lab also intends to register its next building, Building 30, for LEED certification at the silver level. This project will begin design shortly.

“In addition, we are researching the feasibility of obtaining LEED existing-building certifications for recent additions to our campus—buildings 21, 17, 26—and possibly others,” he said.

Davis Bookhart, manager of Energy Management and Environmental Stewardship and chair of the Johns Hopkins Sustainability Committee, said that getting buildings LEED certified is about more than bragging rights and hanging a piece of paper on the wall.

“These buildings tend to be healthier buildings. You reduce the amount of toxins in the work environment that can be potentially harmful. The lighting levels in LEED buildings are also better and efficient, with more use of natural light,” Bookhart said. “All these benefits have been shown to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity. People are simply happier working or studying in a building that they know the institution took time out to upgrade and green.”

Bookhart said that a critical mass of LEED-certified buildings will achieve a significant reduction in the university’s energy usage and environmental impact.

“Ultimately, our focus is on resource conservation,” he said. “Energy reduction and energy savings go hand and hand, and the measures we take to green our buildings can significantly increase our cost savings and reduce the amount of negative environmental impacts, such as carbon dioxide emissions.”

Bookhart said that the changes made to the Bernstein-Offit Building have cut water consumption in that building by more than 50 percent.

The ongoing renovation of Gilman Hall stands to make it the first LEED-certified building on the university’s Homewood campus. While some new campus buildings have been built to LEED standards, Gilman Hall will have Homewood’s first official stamp as a green building.

The LEED effort started on day one of the renovation and will continue into the life of the building.

The Gilman project will receive the basic level of certification in the new-construction level, and early projections show a potential for it to reach silver or possibly gold certification. Gilman Hall is eligible for new-construction status since more than 50 percent of the building will feature new construction and materials.

So far, the work in Gilman Hall has included recycling and salvaging building materials, including marble slabs to be reused later and wood doorframes and transoms that will be left in place. The construction management plan also ensures that dust and chemicals are contained to protect stored materials and maintain the air quality of the worksite. A final air flush will take place just before the building reopens.

The renovation project also includes ample use of recycled products. For example, the concrete poured in the basement and the drywall used for temporary walls and partitions contain recycled content.

The project also racks up points for water and energy efficiencies. The building will be outfitted with low-flow plumbing fixtures to conserve water, and the mechanical systems will be both smart and major energy savers. Specifically, the building will feature high-performance windows, heat recovery units, fluorescent bulbs and rooms with occupancy sensors that automatically shut off the lights when the last person leaves. On a sunny day, the lights will even know to go on gradually as natural light fades.

The building is scheduled to be completed this summer.