Princeton Review and the U.S. Green Building Council name Centre one of America’s greenest colleges

Posted by Centre News in News, Sustainable Centre 22 Apr 2010

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and to celebrate the momentous occasion, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has partnered with The Princeton Review in its first-ever Guide to Green Colleges, which names Centre College one of the nation’s top-rated green colleges.

The just-released online guidebook showcases schools that demonstrate a noteworthy commitment to sustainability through their environmental policies, curricula, campus life offerings and more. (To see the guidebook, click here.)

The USGBC, which is responsible for the industry standard LEED Green Building Certification, certified Centre’s Pearl Hall LEED Gold for the residence hall’s environmentally friendly design and construction. Awarded in April 2009, this was Kentucky’s first LEED Gold certification, as well as the highest LEED rating for any residential facility in the state.

Completed in 2008 and made possible by a gift to the College from Centre trustee Robert Brockman ’63, Pearl Hall makes use of a variable irrigation system, which eliminates the need for permanent and constant use of water for irrigation. The building also uses low-flow shower heads, lavatories, and sinks, as well as dual-flush toilets. All of the hall’s paints, adhesives and sealants contain no harmful ingredients, and the carpeting meets the requirements of Green Label Plus carpeting. Throughout the building, recycling containers are prominently displayed, and students use efficient, front-loading washing machines.

Using a geothermal heating and cooling system, Pearl Hall takes advantage of the more constant temperature underground (warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer) to reduce energy consumption. The system employs 65 wells that are drilled 300 feet deep and utilize 7.3 miles of piping. Water is pumped through the pipes and absorbs, retains and radiates the desired temperature depending on the season.

Pearl is not the only building on campus designed for sustainability. Recently, the renovation of the College’s Norton Center for the Arts became LEED-qualified. While the College has not applied for official LEED certification, the U.S. Green Building Council has indicated that the renovation to the building had sufficient features for it to qualify. Some of these included Centre’s replacing a 500-gallon boiler with two 100-galon water heaters, replacing all windows and doors with thermo pane glass, replacing all exterior 150-watt can lights with 14-watt LED bulbs, installing dual flush toilets throughout the building, installing dual technology motion sensors in halls and bathrooms and more.

Centre students remain committed to sustainability as well. In 2007, the student body voted for the adoption of a Green Fund, which requires students to pay a $20 surcharge on their tuition to purchase renewable energy credits from the Mother Ann Lee Hydroelectric Plant, located near Harrodsburg, Ky. As a result, Centre’s faculty and staff introduced a voluntary salary reduction whereby employees could elect to donate a portion of their pay to the cause.

Last November, E.ON., the parent company of Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas & Electric, presented Centre and its students with the favorite non-residential customer award for these efforts on behalf of the Mother Ann Lee Hydroelectric Station.

Playing an active role in the Green Fund and other projects on campus is the Environmentally Conscious Centre Organization (ECCO), a group of students who encourage “an environmentally conscious lifestyle” on campus.

By Leigh Ivey