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Aug. 12, 2011
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SRU’s Harmony House earns LEED Silver Certification

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – The Harmony House at Slippery Rock University, an energy efficient classroom and office building for sustainability education and research, has been awarded LEED Silver Certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a national program operated by the U.S. Green Building Council that recognizes design, construction operation and maintenance of high performance green buildings.
      “This is a significant milestone for greening efforts at SRU, and we are hoping this project will provide a platform to expand our efforts campuswide,” said Thomas Reynolds, Macoskey Center director.
     The Harmony House provides an anchor for SRU’s 83-acre Robert A. Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Education and Research. SRU launched the center in 1990 and renovated the Harmony House in 2010 to increase energy efficiency and expand educational opportunities. Undergraduate and graduate students study at the center, and community residents attend workshops to learn about home sustainability methods.
     The homestead earned LEED certification in the Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance category.
     “LEED/existing buildings is all about the process of how we operate and maintain our buildings in a way that promotes the health of building occupants, saves us money over the long term and helps to protect the environment for future generations,” Reynolds said. “Regionally, there are only a handful of projects that have been able to achieve this level of certification.”
    Reynolds said students who work at the Macoskey Center helped prepare the LEED certification submission. “SRU is preparing students for real-world challenges by supplementing classroom instruction with hands-on experiences that make a tangible difference in the world,” he said.
     Herb Carlson, SRU vice president for construction design and management, said he was pleased with the certification because it reinforces SRU’s leadership in the sustainability movement.
     “There are more existing buildings to campus than buildings under construction or undergoing major renovations. Therefore, there are more opportunities to demonstrate green principles in our existing buildings than waiting on new construction or renovations,” he said.
     Sustainability refers to harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged, and it argues that good environmental policy also benefits the economy.
      “Improving the existing building stock holds much more potential to save energy, minimize adverse environmental impacts and reduce dependence on foreign oil than almost any other action that can be taken,” said Paul Scanlon, SRU special assistant to the president. “It also yields a good return on investment, and helps bridge the gap in the U.S. energy shortage, buying time for the development of new, high impact green technologies and new/more efficient energy sources. SRU had been making great strides in this area for years, and the sustainable operations and maintenance best practices and policies documented for this project will help us retain the energy savings in the future while continuously improving our operations in a sustainable manner.”  
     To obtain LEED certification in the existing building category, a building must demonstrate excellence in energy and waste management, maintenance methods, water use efficient and indoor environmental quality, d waste management, exterior maintenance and recycling, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.
      “Reaching for 2025 and Beyond,” SRU’s strategic plan, identifies sustainable design, resource utilization, energy conservation and awareness of environmental stewardship as priorities.
       SRU’s renovation to the Harmony House aligns with the plan. The building was renovated to increase energy and cooling efficiency and includes a pop-up roof, new entrance and covered porch that buffets wind. The center received twice the classroom space, a green kitchen and geothermal heating and cooling system.
      The windows face predominately south to take advantage of daylight and passive heating. The geothermal heat pump extracts heat from the ground via a loop pipe that goes 500 feet into the ground, and a woodstove provides additional heating in winter.
     SRU purchased energy efficient appliances, and used recycled materials. The kitchen table was crafted with wood from a sycamore tree that fell in a Pittsburgh park, and the floors throughout the house were manufactured with renewable materials.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.