Muskegon Community College’s Science Center, which opened in August 2015, has earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification for its sustainable strategies used in the design and construction of the new facility.
The $9.6 million facility is home to the MCC Life Sciences Department and the College’s biology courses. The Science Center houses five laboratories, two research areas, a grow room, a herbarium, a cadaver room, a prep room and the departmental office.
The College recently received official notification of the U.S. Green Building Council honor. The Science Center is one of only four buildings in Muskegon to have earned LEED gold certification.
The four levels of LEED certification – certified, silver, gold and platinum – are awarded based upon the number of points a project earns for documented sustainable strategies used in its design and construction.
“We design for energy efficiency in all we do, but this is the first LEED certified building on campus,” said Gerald Nyland, the MCC Physical Plant director.
LEED features employed in the Science Center construction included: landscaping with proper storm water drainage; the use of light colored, heat-reducing colors on sidewalks and roofs; air quality control; use of low volatile organic compounds; water efficient plumbing; individualized lighting controls, use of recycled construction materials; recycling of construction waste; and implementation of recycling containers.
“The heat pumps provide both the heat and the air conditioning,” explained Nyland. “The system is self-balancing and the building will heat and cool itself. It’s very sophisticated and the most energy efficiency building that we’ve ever had.”
“The heat recovery units were designed so all the exhaust in the labs and in the building goes through a plate-to-plate heat exchanger so that we recover most of that heat. The net efficiency is well over 80 percent. In the old labs, it was 100 percent exhaust out and 100 percent outdoor air coming in. Also, we lower the ventilation when the labs are not in use to save energy.”
The new Science Center was sited and designed to blend in with the original buildings and minimally disturb the site The MCC main campus was designed in the 1960s by famous architect Alden Dow, known for incorporating buildings into rolling, natural landscapes. The Science Center exterior landscape provides habitat for vegetation and wildlife, along with preventing water erosion and discharge of storm water.
“Reception of this honored gold level is a visible award of the ideals and goals for sustainability that the college strives to attain,” noted MCC Science Instructor Theresa Van Veelen. “From its geothermal heating to its locally produced cabinetry, the spacious new wing will be utilized for many years to come and visitors are welcomed to tour the facilities.”