Graham Building Earns LEED Silver for Sustainable Design

Bucknell’s eighth LEED-certified project emphasizes green features and efficient use of energy and water, while serving as a campus wellness hub. Photo by Brett Simpson

Bucknell University’s Graham Building has earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification, making it the eighth construction project on campus to receive at least basic LEED certification, and the seventh to reach the more rigorous Silver milestone.

Opened in August 2016, the Graham Building brings together campus health and wellness resources in a central hub. The 36,000-square-foot building provides a home for Bucknell Student Health, the Counseling & Student Development Center and a new Wellness Center, which provides space for faculty and staff wellness initiatives as well as student-focused programming. The second floor of the building, which is connected to Sojka Pavilion, houses a world-class training facility for the Bison wrestling team.

“Sustainability contributes to the well-being of building occupants, and the opening of the Graham Building has allowed us to move our health and wellness services to a much more energy-efficient space,” said Amy Smalt, campus planner for Bucknell Facilities and a LEED-accredited professional. “The creation of this space shows Bucknell’s commitment to the wellness of the campus community.”

Moving the Counseling & Student Development Center to Graham also opened space to bring the Office of Sponsored Projects back to campus from a leased property, Smalt added.

The Graham Building provides a bright and airy home for Bucknell Student Health and the Counseling & Student Development Center. Photo by Tim Sofranko

Sustainable for the Long Run

LEED certification is conferred by the U.S. Green Building Council, the nation’s largest green-building accrediting body. The rigorous LEED system is designed to measure the effectiveness of a building’s green features both during construction and over its life cycle, and takes into account measures to reduce waste, energy consumption and water use, among other factors. Bucknell made ample use of sustainable materials and building practices during the construction of Graham, diverting more than 93 percent of construction waste from landfills through recycling while incorporating recycled (more than 10 percent) and regionally sourced (more than 20 percent) materials into the building’s design.

Expansive windows — made from well-insulated materials — wrap three sides of Graham, allowing natural light to reach nearly all interior spaces and reducing the need for electric lighting by day. Occupancy sensors, which turn off lights and adjust air temperature settings in unoccupied rooms, further reduce that need. These and other measures cut the building’s energy use by approximately one-quarter, and Bucknell has purchased renewable energy credits generated by wind power equal to 100 percent of projected electricity use by the building for two years.

Large windows provide natural light and exterior views in 90 percent of the Graham Building, including the new Wellness Center. Photo by Brett Simpson

Low-flow water fixtures within the building, meanwhile, cut its water consumption by nearly a third versus a conventional building, while landscaping outside makes use of native plants, which thrive in the local climate and eliminate the need for artificial irrigation. [ Read more about the building’s sustainable design.]

Smalt added that planners also included features that are not well captured by the LEED evaluation criteria, but advance the building’s health-centric purpose and encourage sustainable lifestyles just the same. One such example is a trail of fitness training stations just outside Graham, she observed.

“These stations offer students, faculty and staff an opportunity to improve their physical health while also staying connected to the outdoors,” Smalt said.

The fitness trail outside Graham offers connectivity to the outdoors, Smalt said. Photo by Brett Simpson

Future Goals

A concern for sustainability guides all construction and renovation projects at Bucknell, which is committed to designing all new buildings to meet or exceed LEED Silver standards, subject to approval by the Board of Trustees. The Graham Building is the eighth new construction or renovation project on campus, and the 11th building, to receive at least basic LEED certification, and the seventh to earn at least Silver status — all in the last five years. Two projects, the South Campus Apartments and MacDonald Commons, both of which opened in 2015, also achieved the higher LEED Gold designation. Bucknell is also seeking LEED Silver status for two affinity houses that opened this summer near the South Campus Apartments, and the University’s next major project, Academic East, is designed to meet LEED Gold. [ Read more about Bucknell’s LEED-certified buildings.]

Bucknell has also signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, a pledge to attain institutional carbon neutrality by 2030.

Matt HughesBucknell University