ITHACA, NY — The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded LEED Gold to the Ithaca College Athletics & Events Center. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system is the foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.
Opened in 2011, the Athletics & Events Center provides both the campus and wider communities with a state-of-the-art facility in which to gather, learn, train and compete. The A&E Center was designed by the architectural firm Moody-Nolan, and at nearly 178,000 square feet it is the largest construction project ever at the college.
The $65.5 million complex features a field house and aquatics pavilion in the main building, which also houses athletic training and strength training facilities, a “wet” classroom for athletic and academic programs, a hall of fame display, a press box, athletics offices, team rooms and locker rooms. An adjacent outdoor stadium with lighted turf field and an outdoor tennis facility round out the center.
“This recognition is surprising only in that it exceeds our hopes and expectations for the A&E Center,” said Ithaca College President Tom Rochon. “We have made a commitment that all new construction as well as renovations to existing buildings must at least meet the LEED Silver standards. Credit goes to the designers and builders as well as to those who staff and operate the building on a day-to-day basis for helping to ensure that our promise of a sustainable campus is met.”
Gold is the second-highest LEED rating. In 2011, Ithaca College became the second academic institution in the world to have two newly constructed buildings on its campus with the highest rating — LEED Platinum — when the Peggy Ryan Williams Center joined the Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise in earning that designation. The Classroom Link corridor, which connects those buildings with one another and with others on campus, has also achieved LEED Gold.
The LEED system awards points according to a strict set of criteria that fall within a half-dozen categories. The A&E Center was recognized with LEED Gold for implementing practical and measurable strategies and solutions aimed at achieving high performance in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
The environmentally beneficial features of the field house include a ventilation system that’s built around the signature tower that is the facility’s most visible aspect. The tower has louvers on its prevailing wind side; the narrow slits allow cool air into the building, while the warmer air inside the building rises to the level of the tower’s higher louvers and is pushed out.
The swimming pool also demonstrates the college’s commitment to sustainability: over one million gallons of water are saved annually through the innovative filtration system, and the space uses cooled air to reduce moisture as a more efficient method of dehumidification.
Additional sustainable aspects include strategically placed windows for natural lighting, a reflective roof to minimize cooling requirements, an exhaust system with energy recovery and low-emitting materials to ensure indoor air quality. Many of the building materials used in construction are native to the region.
The building was named the winner of an Innovative Architecture & Design Award in 2012 from Recreation Management magazine. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, the A&E Center is in rare company as one of only six LEED Gold athletics facilities on a college campus in the country (none are LEED Platinum). It is the third largest in terms of overall square footage, and one of only two such complexes to include a swimming/diving pavilion.
“With the achievement of LEED Gold for its Athletics & Events Center, Ithaca College can truly boast of providing an exceptional campus and community resource for education, entertainment and sporting events,” said Tracie Hall, executive director of the U.S. Green Building Council New York Upstate Chapter. “We commend the trustees and administration of the college for their vision, and the project team for creating this impressive facility that incorporates so many essential energy and water conservation measures.”
The A&E Center is used by nearly all of Ithaca’s intercollegiate teams — which comprise more than 700 student-athletes — and countless other students through intramural, club and recreational sport use. The facility has hosted conference championships in swimming and diving, track and field and tennis; the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and New York State YMCA swimming and diving championships; and numerous regional high school meets.
The building’s seating and floor space are also used for campus and community events that draw large audiences, which have included the New York State Association of College Admissions Counselors Conference; F&T Distributing trade show; Ithaca College’s Commencement Eve Concert, opening Convocation ceremony and prospective student open houses; a regional college fair; and Ithaca High School graduation ceremonies.
For more information on Ithaca College’s sustainability programs, principles and practices, visit www.ithaca.edu/sustainability.