Gettysburg College implemented its 23-year-long Climate Action Plan in 2009. The plan included strategies to improve energy efficiency such as installing LED lighting, constructing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) buildings, improving heating and cooling systems, and purchasing carbon offsets.
The work of the Climate Action Plan has reduced the college’s carbon emissions by nearly 50% (Dejacimo 2019). In terms of energy efficiency, the college has gotten more efficient mostly through the construction of the LEED-certified buildings, temperature control on student housing, and LED lighting.
The Jaeger Center is one of the college’s LEED-certified buildings. The 65,000 square-foot facility opened in the fall of 2009. Its energy-efficient systems include installment of centrifugal chillers, high-efficiency water tube re-heat boilers, and daylighting and water conservation methods. One of the most impressive energy-efficiency designs is the 80 foot “thermal chimney,” also known as the glass tower, that provides natural ventilation and cooling (Barton Associates 2019). The facility achieved a LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council.
“We achieved gold, we ended up with 41 points,” says Rob Butch about the Jaeger Center’s LEED certification (2019). Rob Butch handles the finances of the facilities department.
Of the 41 points the that the center achieved for the LEED certification, nine came from the presence of sustainable sites, four came from water efficiency, seven came from energy and atmosphere, seven came from materials and resources, nine came from indoor environmental quality, and five came from innovation and design processes.
Butch knows many of the ins and outs about the construction of the Jaeger Center including all of the facility’s sustainable projects: “some of it is that we put in some low-emitting parking spaces. We had good floodwater management. We put a white roof in to give a heat island effect—we do this now with our new roofs. We focused a lot on water efficiency” (2019).
The LEED building rating system has been criticized for its delinkage from environmental outcomes as the system awards points based on meeting a site-level target that does not always capture the relationship between systems of the environment and the building (Greer et al 2019). A main component of this issue relates to the supply chain of materials used for building construction.
Butch assured me that the construction of the Jaeger Center was done with these issues in mind: “we wanted to make sure we were managing as much of the construction waste as possible; we diverted as much as possible from going back to the landfill. We used recycled materials as much as possible” (2019). Butch went to explain that these decisions were both an environmentally and economically common sense decision as “a lot of these tend to be cheaper” (Butch 2019).