LEED Green Building Rating System Silver Standard Adopted

In June of 2006 the Oberlin College Board of Trustees adopted a policy that all new construction and major renovations on campus have to be designed and built in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver standard. The adoption of this standard will significantly reduce the use of resources on campus in the future, as the built spaces will both be built more efficiently and perform more efficiently. In 2006, the Board of Trustees adopted a policy that all new construction and major renovations be built to at least LEED Silver standard or equivalent, as a tangible action per the ACUPCC. This policy was revised and reinforced in 2013 and can be read here.

Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies

The Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies (AJLC) was one of the first and most innovative green buildings on a college campus. It helped launch the green building movement of the mid 1990s and its innovative systems have since inspired green buildings in many other locations and settings. In 2010, Architect Magazine polled 150 green building experts and named the AJLC the top green building built since 1980.

Living Machine Wastewater Treatment System

The Living Machine processes wastewater into reusable grey water via the natural cleansing methods that occur in a wetland—plants, bacteria, protozoa, and other aquatic microorganisms are used to clean and condition the water for reuse. It is located in the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, and it is operated by a group of about 10 students. The Living Machine provides excellent opportunities for Oberlin College students and the community to explore issues of wastewater, wetland ecology, microbiology and plant dynamics.

Solar Parking Pavilion

With the installation of a new solar parking pavilion adjacent to the existing photovoltaic (PV) array on the roof of the innovative AJLC, Oberlin had the largest PV array in Ohio at the time, with a total rated production of 159 kW. By using the solar energy produced by the PV array, the college produces most of the electricity needed for the building.

SEED House

In the fall of 2006 a group of students brought the idea of a sustainable living theme house called SEED — that is, Student Experiment in Ecological Design to the administration. The first phase of renovations were conducted in the summer of 2007 and students moved into the house in fall ’07. The house accommodates a total of eight students and is designed to spread the advantages of sustainable living into the local community. The SEED House is across from the Allen Art Museum at 20 and 22 E. Lorain St.

Robert L. Kahn Hall

Opened in Fall 2010, Kahn Hall is sustainability-themed first-year residence hall. Its sustainable design and in-depth energy metering through the Campus Resource Monitoring System provide students the opportunity to explore how their actions effect their resource usage. For its sustainable design components, Kahn received LEED NC Silver certification.

Other Policies

Green Cleaning Chemicals

Oberlin has recently switched to the use of an environmentally-friendly multi-purpose cleaner called H2Orange2 made by Envirox. The new cleaning solutions are hydrogen peroxide based and are biodegradable. The product is far less toxic than typical cleaning solutions due to the elimination of chemicals used in common janitorial cleaning products (phosphates, high pH detergents, alcohols, ammonia, amines, chlorine bleach, APE’s, acids, caustics, quaternary ammonium compounds, dyes, and fragrances). The new multi-purpose cleaner is equally effective as a sanitizer to less environmentally-friendly products, and it is non-toxic to humans and aquatic life.

Carpet Recycling and Vendor Selection

Oberlin College both purchases and recycles all of the carpet on campus through Legacy Commercial Flooring. In 2003 the college won the State of Ohio Department of Administrative Services STS Recycler of the Year Award for the amount of carpet it recycled. Over the past four years, Oberlin has recycled 177,057 square feet of used carpet (equal to 111,507 lbs). According to the Antron Reclamation Program Calculator, this is equivalent to a savings of 208.8 cubic yards of landfill space, 112,136.1 gallons of water, 184,434.4 pounds of CO2, and 1,227,418,143 BTUs of energy. Through recycling its old carpets and in turn buying carpet from the company, Oberlin reduces the necessity to extract new resources by both keeping its old carpet out of landfills and also helping to create economic demand for recycled-content carpets.

No VOC Paints Used in Any Campus Buildings

Oberlin College uses Sherwin Williams Harmony paints in all campus buildings. These paints have no odor, no silicates, and no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Oberlin protects the health of the campus community by carefully selecting products such as these that will not negatively impact indoor air quality.