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Green to Gold: Georgian Court Wellness Center Takes Environmental Honors

Lakewood, N.J., Jan. 26, 2010—Georgian Court University was awarded LEED gold certification for its Wellness Center, the university's eco-friendly athletics and academic building that highlights the school's commitment to environmental responsibility.

The 66,000-square-foot Wellness Center incorporates structural and aesthetic features that conserve energy and water, and make the most of sustainable materials. The recent Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold rating stems from the university's conscious efforts to construct a facility that works for students and the environment.

The LEED gold certification reinforces Georgian Court's holistic approach to promoting balance and well-being across the board, says GCU President Rosemary E. Jeffries, RSM, Ph.D.

“The Wellness Center is more than a place where we can work toward physical wellness; it's evidence of the many ways we can grow and still be in concert—not conflict—with nature,” she says, noting the Sisters of Mercy's core value of respect for all living things. “And while the environment certainly benefits, so does the GCU community. The Wellness Center is a prime example of how we can work together toward sustainability.”

The university, which is sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, applied for LEED status shortly after the center was completed in 2008. Officials expected the center to earn silver certification, but quickly realized that key elements of the project might qualify the building for LEED gold.

Andrew Christ, P.E., GCU assistant vice president for operations, believes the long evaluation period was worth the wait. “We were able to make smart decisions that led to LEED gold, and this is something that truly that complements our values and our mission,” he says.

The $26 million facility includes a two-court arena that seats 1,200 fans for basketball and volleyball, a training/exercise science lab, a state-of-the-art fitness center, two professional-level dance studios, an exercise science lab, and athletic and academic offices. The complex extends outdoors with fields for softball, soccer, and lacrosse, an eight-lane track, and tennis courts.

In planning the Wellness Center, GCU:

  • Used wood from forests grown specifically for harvest;
  • Incorporated a heating, venting, and air conditioning system that lowers energy use in the facility;
  • Included radiant floor systems and made the most of natural day lighting;
  • Re-purposed 102,685 cubic yards of excavated materials and used it to build up footprints for the center and adjacent playing fields; and
  • Designed a creative storm water management system that includes a retention pond, more than 4,500 feet of underground drainage pipes to channel runoff, and a lightweight, vegetated roof system that also mitigates storm water runoff.

“Increasingly, companies and institutions that are building projects are seeing that construction can be done in an environmentally friendly way, and it does not have to increase costs,” says Mr. Christ, who worked with architects, project managers and construction crews on the project.

“The GCU Wellness Center was completed to LEED gold standards with little to no impact on the final cost,” Mr. Christ says. “We built what we wanted to have, and we did it with quality materials and good choices.”

LEED certification, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, is not easy to attain. Projects submitted to the council for consideration must meet high standards in several areas, including water efficiency, energy efficiency, use of materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and design innovation. The ratings are recognized worldwide and highlight the many ways builders and building owners demonstrate responsible stewardship of natural resources.

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive university with a strong liberal arts core and a special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court serves over 3,000 students of all faiths and backgrounds in a residential Women's College and a coeducational University College with undergraduate and graduate programs. Georgian Court's main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, now named a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court also offers classes at its site at One Woodbridge Center in Woodbridge, at Coastal Communiversity in Wall, and at Cumberland County College in Vineland.

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