Le Moyne's new science building is not just a place for students to learn. It's part of the lesson.
Beyond providing Le Moyne's science programs with additional space and enhanced technology to aid in research and learning, the building was carefully designed and constructed to reduce its environmental impact. Among its most notable green features are trombe walls, which absorb heat from the sun during the day and emit that heat throughout the building at night; a live roof, which conserves heat and reduces storm water runoff; bio-swale and a storm water management system, which help reduce erosion and allow storm water to be absorbed as ground water more easily; and cabinets made from bamboo plywood, which grows much more rapidly than other types of wood. Additionally, 92 percent of the waste generated during construction was recycled, depositing far less trash in area landfills than would have been the case using a conventional building process.
In addition to reducing the College's overall environmental impact, this building has another important benefit. It serves as a model of sustainability for students. Every day students monitor energy and water use in the facility and recommend ways to make it more efficient. To that end, the building becomes part of an experiment in which they participate.
S. Richard Fedrizzi '76, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), said he hopes that work will shape the way students think about the environment and their relationship to it.
"The beauty of the building is that it's a living lab," he said. "The students who are monitoring the space today will be the workforce and homeowners of tomorrow. The will have the opportunity to create a better world going forward because they will understand the value of constructing sustainable, high-performance buildings."
Fedrizzi's work has brought him to thousands of green buildings around the world, and what he has observed about educational buildings in particular is that the natural light, high air quality, and acoustics combine to provide an atmosphere that he describes as "serene" and which allows students to better concentrate and retain information.
Le Moyne's science building is expected to receive gold certification from the USGBC as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) facility, the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. It recognizes performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental air quality.
As a Jesuit institution, the College has long viewed protecting the environment as a central part of its mission. Adolfo Nicolas; superior general of the Society of Jesus has called upon the Jesuits around the world to be good stewards of the earth. The College has responded by introducing sustainability programs and practices across its campus. For example, Le Moyne has an environmentally themed student residence; majors in environmental science systems and environmental science are offered; and sustainable practices such as composting and buying locally grown food have been put in place through the College's dining services. The new science building is a natural extension of those efforts.
"Not only does the construction of a green building reduce Le Moyne's overall environmental impact, but it also teaches our students to be aware of their impact on the earth at precisely the time they're forming habits that will remain with them throughout their lives," said President Fred Pestello. "By shaping the way these young men and women think about the environment even at a very basic level. we can effect change."