SJU McKeown Center awarded LEED Gold status

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June 24, 2011

The McKeown Center at Saint John's University has been awarded LEED® Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute.

The first LEED certified building on the SJU campus, the McKeown Center stands as an example of SJU's commitment to sustainability, said Derek Larson, associate professor of history and department chair of environmental studies at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University.

The building also provides educational value, offering environmental studies students the opportunity to visit a sustainable building on campus, he said.

"In addition, participation by our faculty in the design process means we will be able to explain how the building's systems and materials were chosen, how the structure was placed on the site, and how technology and human factors were taken into consideration in the planning process," he said. "The documentation related to the LEED process will further provide a hands-on example of how LEED works, something we can use in the classroom while discussing the variety of 'green' building programs around the country."

The McKeown Center is the community center for Flynntown - the lower campus of SJU. It includes a kitchen, dining area, lounge area, study rooms, a computer lab, laundry facilities, outdoor patio and a recreational area.

It achieved LEED certification for design based on a number of sustainable strategies and construction features that positively impact the project itself and the broader community. They include:

  • The diversion from landfill of 378.5 tons (95.2 percent) of on-site generated construction waste.
  • 24.3 percent of the total value of building materials comprised materials and/or products that have been extracted, harvested or recovered and manufactured within 500 miles of the project site.
  • All indoor adhesive, sealant, paint and finishing products comply with required volatile organic compound limits. Additionally, the building was flushed out for several days following construction to improve indoor air quality prior to occupancy.
  • To maximize efficiencies of natural lighting, large windows were installed in the upper levels, and a window well was installed for the basement level.
  • To reduce energy usage, energy efficient lighting, heating and air conditioning systems were installed, along with high efficiency toilets and low-flow lavatories to reduce water consumption.
  • The building's energy use is monitored in real time, and the data is used both by SJU physical plant workers to adjust performance and by environmental studies students, who analyze the data in comparison with other campus structures. Educational tours are available as well.
  • To reduce maintenance and to reduce site runoff, landscaping included no-mow grass, a rain garden and pervious sidewalk pavers. Also, no permanent exterior irrigation system was installed.

The McKeown Center was designed by Lee Tollefson of the Rafferty Rafferty Tollefson Lindeke architectural firm of St. Paul, Minn., and opened in 2009.

The LEED green building certification system is the foremost program for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. Nearly 40,000 projects are currently participating in the commercial and institutional LEED rating systems, comprising nearly 8 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and 120 countries. In addition, more than 11,000 homes have been certified under the LEED for Homes rating system, with more than 52,000 more homes registered.