Colby’s new Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center has been certified as “green” under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

LEED is the acronym for a program administered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) setting national standards for green building design. The rating system was developed by the USGBC to promote environmentally friendly design and to reduce false and exaggerated environmental claims.

Colby’s new 28,000-square-foot building received certification from the USGBC in February, and was certified at the silver level. That’s a step up from basic LEED certification, recognizing environmental enhancements and systems that go beyond the minimum standards for a green building.

Some of the initiatives incorporated in the building are:

• Geothermal heating and cooling;
• Clapboards fabricated from mill ends;
• Wallboard made of recycled materials, including gypsum from industrial smokestacks;
• 64 percent of the project construction waste was diverted from landfill;
• An elevator hydraulic system that uses vegetable oil instead of petroleum;
• Toilet-stall partitions made using 30 percent post-industrial recycled plastic;
• Graywater from heating system used to flush toilets;
• Waterless urinals in men’s rooms;
• Carpets made using 32 percent post-industrial recycled material;
• Electricity generated from wind power;
• 50 percent locally harvested materials.

Colleges and universities are recognized as hothouses for architectural innovation as is evident in other college buildings around the state being built to LEED specifications.

Colby currently has a 53,000-square-foot academic building, the Diamond Building for social science and interdisciplinary programs, under construction and will seek LEED certification for that project as well.