LEED award symbolizes change

By Lauren Kelly

In the spirit of innovation and change Columbia is known for, the college was recently awarded a Silver LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its renovation of the fifth floor of the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building.

The project used some green building materials with recycled content and now promotes recycling and uses less electricity, water and energy than a typical building. The Congress Building also has a green roof. Although it costs money to renovate the space, it now uses fewer resources, therefore saving money. The money saved will accumulate, so the upkeep of the building will be less expensive in the future. Also, the space is now aesthetically pleasing and is a great study space many students utilize daily.

The project was designed by architectural firm Gensler, which has done ongoing work with the college and has designed other spaces on campus in the past. The architects initially aimed to achieve any level of LEED certification and the Silver award surpassed that goal.

In recent years, Columbia has been an innovative force in using environmental alternatives and has moved toward green building practices.  The fifth floor is a powerful symbol of those efforts. and deserves recognition. Columbia has the opportunity to become a leader in the city for green buildings and is stepping up to the challenge.

In addition to efforts in the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building, Columbia is also working to obtain a Gold LEED certification for the new Media Production Center, located at 14th and State streets, scheduled to open in spring 2010.

Columbia is also doing its part to educate students about environmental design and offers a program through the Art and Design Department that concentrates on green building and sustainable design.

The college should continue its leadership role in green building practices by being environmentally conscious when undertaking any new renovation project. It is clear the college is committed to having a small carbon footprint and should continue its efforts in the future.