LEEDing the Way Back to School
Local community colleges boast new buildings so smart they’ve earned top honors
New buildings at both Anne Arundel Community College and the College of Southern Maryland are working just like good students do to achieve perfection.
Anne Arundel’s renovated Andrew G. Truxal Library has already graduated LEED (short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) with top honors. It’s only the eighth building in Anne Arundel County to achieve those honors.
The just-completed green building on the College of Southern Maryland’s Calvert campus — named Building B — is still taking its LEED exams.
Using repurposed and recycled materials and designed to be more energy efficient, LEED buildings are environmentally friendly. That makes them also friendly to the people who learn and work in them.
At the heart of Anne Arundel Community College’s main campus in Arnold, the Truxal Library seems to use light as a construction material. The glass façade defines and brands the space. Large windows help regulate lighting and temperature. In turn, inside lights adjust their brightness based on the natural light available and the number of people within the space.
Glass is not as apparent at the College of Southern Maryland’s Prince Frederick campus, but it is just as important. The glass-walled entrance brings in light and gives the building a soaring sense of loft. More light flows in through elongated skylights and big windows in classrooms. Natural light keeps most rooms so bright that shades are installed on many windows.
In each of the 30,000-square-foot building’s seven new classrooms and labs and three new meeting rooms, light, temperature and air are perfectly balanced, with natural light and human presence taken into the equation.
“It’s very sophisticated,” says Richard Fleming, dean of the Calvert campus. “All the mechanical systems are computer-controlled. The building is constantly monitoring itself.”
Recycling brings more points to buildings seeking LEED honors. Anne Arundel’s 1967 Truxal library was recycled into the new building. A small expansion strip marks the transition from the renovated old building to the new 32,000-square-foot addition.
Renovation has almost doubled the library’s size and enlarged its capacity — and energy draw. It now holds over 200 computers. Yet it consumes 22 percent less energy.
In Calvert, 80 percent of construction materials were recycled. “Even trees that had to be cut were recycled as lumber or mulch,” Fleming says.
Building B is setting Calvert County records at the same time it earns LEED honors. It gives Calvert its second LEED building. The building’s four green roofs are sources of particular pride to Fleming, who oversaw the rise of the eight-year-old rural campus’s newest addition.
Nice and flat, the succulent-planted roofs cover architectural bump-outs that can be seen and enjoyed from class and meeting room windows.
With 31 bioretention ponds throughout parking lots, the four green roofs are part of a system that allows no water to leave the site. With stormwater recycled and all ground-level green spaces planted in natives tolerant of Maryland’s climate, Building B has no irrigation.
Water-saving faucets and toilets earn more LEED credit.
Anne Arundel Community College’s green roof is proving human-friendly, too.
During the redesign, students were interviewed about what they wanted in the new library. So in addition to recycled carpets and rain gardens — which LEED values — the library now has more study spaces, windows and computers.
LEED also rewards minimalist architecture, so exposed beams and brick walls are integrated into the design, rather than covered up, making the library look more like a trendy apartment than an old academic building.
“Within days,” Library Director Cindy Steinhoff said, “students found their favorite spots in the building.”
For some, that spot is next to the window out to an 8,000-square-foot rain garden that doubles as a green roof. Fed with water from the AC units, this garden helps keep the building cooler and reduces stormwater runoff.
“Features like this got us LEED points,” says Steinhoff. “They also got us points with the students.”