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Ithaca College in Elite Company for Environmental Leadership in Building Construction

ITHACA, NY — The U.S. Green Building Council has granted LEED Platinum certification — the highest possible standard — to the Peggy Ryan Williams Center at Ithaca College. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.

With the college’s Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise having previously been certified to the LEED Platinum level, Ithaca thus joins the company of Yale University as the only academic institutions in the world to have two newly constructed Platinum LEED buildings on their campus.

Named for the college’s seventh president — now president emerita — the Peggy Ryan Williams Center was designed by HOLT Architects and built by Christa Construction to incorporate the highest of sustainability principles. Opened in the fall of 2009, it houses the Office of the President and other senior administration, Office of Human Resources, Division of Enrollment and Communication, and Division of Graduate and Professional Studies.
“Great credit goes not only to the PRW Center’s designers and builders, but also to our facilities staff and to those who work in the building,” said Ithaca College president Tom Rochon. “Their day-to-day occupancy and operations ensure that its sustainable elements are used to their fullest. To be in such distinguished company with two Platinum LEED buildings gives us all an incredible sense of pride and achievement.”

In addition to offices, the 58,000-square-foot building features a large atrium overlooking Cayuga Lake and a multipurpose auditorium for admissions presentations to prospective students and their families.

Over 50% of the building’s energy comes from renewable sources, with a geothermal system using the Earth’s relatively consistent temperature to provide heating and cooling. Other sustainable features of the building include:

  • Nearly 6,500 square feet of vegetated roof area to replace land taken by the building, reducing airborne pollutants and adding oxygen to the atmosphere.
  • Natural convection ventilation that pre-cools the atrium at the start of each day by drawing cooler night air across a shade garden on the north side of the building and relieving it out the light monitor four stories above.
  • Sensors that control light fixtures and mechanical ventilation based on natural light levels and occupancy to reduce their use and conserve electricity.
  • A 12,000-gallon tank below the garden that collects rainwater from the roof, serving over 85% of the building’s yearly water needs.

The LEED system awards points according to a strict set of criteria that fall within a half-dozen categories, such as indoor environmental quality, materials and resources, and water efficiency. Projects can be designated at one of four levels (in ascending order) — certified, silver, gold or platinum — based on the number of points earned.

The PRW Center is located adjacent to the Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise, which serves as home to the Ithaca College School of Business. In 2008 the Park Center became the first facility for a college or university business school in the world to be certified LEED Platinum.

Connecting those buildings with one another and with others on campus is the Classroom Link corridor, which itself has earned LEED Gold certification. Currently under construction and scheduled to open in the fall of 2011 is the college’s new athletics and events center, a multipurpose complex that has been designed to meet at least LEED Silver standards.

The college has also been recognized with the prestigious Energy Star seal for three of its residence halls. A joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, Energy Star encourages and recognizes efforts that help save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.

For more information on Ithaca College’s sustainability programs and practices, visit /sustainability/ or contact Marian Brown, special assistant to the provost for sustainability, at 607-274-3787 or

1 Comment

As a graduate of Ithaca college (09') and the Park Center of Business and Sustainable Enterprise I can attest to environmental and social consciousness provided by the education I received. To see Ithaca College at the forefront of sustainable design is no surprise.

It was those formative years and IC's commitment to sustainability that provided me direction when choosing a career.

Now as a Project Manager For Greensulate LLC, A national vegetative roofing design and installation firm based out of NYC, I am able to apply that consciousness forward.

Green roofs contribute to increased building envelope efficiency which reduces costs associated with heating and cooling. They naturally manage the flow, quality and amount of rain water leaving the roof and affecting the local environment. They increase the efficiency of other energy saving technologies such as grey water systems or photovoltaics. And, they provide a beautiful covering to protect the existing roofing membrane; extending the life of the waterproof membrane by at least double. For more information on vegetative roofing systems please visit

I could not be more proud of my education and the direction that Ithaca College is expanding.