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Business Building earns LEED re-certification, jumps from gold to platinum

December 15, 2021

Business Building in fall (800p)
Thanks to a collaboration between several members of the Smeal community and the Office of Physical Plant, the Business Building has received LEED Platinum certification.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Over the past decade, the Smeal College of Business has been committed to advancing sustainability, a value that’s visible not only in Smeal’s courses and curriculums, but also in its infrastructure and operations. 

The Business Building, which recently received LEED Platinum Certification, is proof. 

This fall, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded the Business Building with LEED Platinum Certification, the highest ranking in the world’s most widely used rating system for green building design, construction, operations and performance. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a globally recognized symbol of leadership in sustainably built and managed buildings.

The Business Building is Penn State’s first building to earn a top platinum level of certification by LEED under the operations and maintenance category, and the second platinum certified building overall. 

“For Smeal, this is one of the ways that we show we can ‘walk the talk’ regarding ethical leadership and sustainability,” said Erik Foley, director of the Center for the Business of Sustainability.

When students step inside the Business Building, its LEED Certification isn’t something they need to see; instead, it’s something they can feel. From ample access to daylight to improved air quality, the building fosters a healthy and happy work environment.  

In 2015, the Business Building earned LEED-EB Gold Certification, meeting a set of requirements across measurements, including: location and transportation, sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, material and resources, indoor environmental quality and regional priority credits. 

For the past several months, Foley, Business Manager Teri Ault, Facilities Representative Mark Lozinski and staff from Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant have worked in collaboration with Leonardo Academy, a LEED consulting company, to focus on the building’s recertification. 

Ault said she was especially appreciative of the collaborative spirit of Facilities Project Manager Robert Lingenfelter, who served as a liaison between Smeal, OPP and Leonardo. Ault said her team within Smeal’s Research, Instruction and Information Technology Group was instrumental in the effort. 

“Attaining LEED Platinum certification affirmed some practices we had already adopted,” Ault said. “We have always wanted to be a responsible user of space and consumer of goods. Our team developed a new, more critical way of thinking and, in the process, helped educate our Smeal community.” 

While newer buildings can begin the construction process with LEED certification in mind, the more than 15-year-old Business Building has had to undergo a series of renovations and modernizations to its pre-existing design. Making the jump from gold to platinum is the result of maintained operations, prioritization of sustainability efforts and modifications to the LEED scoring methodology.        

This milestone is a reflection of the strides Penn State has made towards climate conscious targets and demonstrates the university’s commitment to sustainable development. 

“Since 2005, when Penn State set its first greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal, the University has deployed a wide range of strategies to lower its carbon footprint,” said Rob Cooper, senior director of energy and sustainability in the Penn State Office of Physical Plant. “Building new facilities that meet LEED’s high standards of certification has long been an important component of the University’s overall carbon reduction strategy.” 

A 2014 UC Berkeley study found that buildings with LEED certification contribute 50% fewer greenhouse gasses than other buildings due to water consumption, 48% fewer greenhouse gasses due to solid waste and 5% fewer greenhouse gasses due to transportation. 

In total, Penn State has 48 buildings across Pennsylvania that have met LEED certifications with nearly 20 more in pending status for potential certification. 

More information on sustainability efforts at Smeal, including its Center for the Business of Sustainability, can be found online.

Media Contact

Andy Elder
Public Relations Specialist