Whitin Observatory Renovation Earns LEED Silver

January 5, 2012

The renovation of the Whitin Observatory, home of the Astronomy Department at Wellesley College, has received silver LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Certification by LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability in the United States and countries around the world.

“LEED certification is currently the best evaluation process that’s out there in terms of new construction or major renovation,” says Patrick Willoughby, director of sustainability at Wellesley. “We’ve always done relatively sustainable renovations at Wellesley, but this just certified that we’re on the right track.”

This is the second LEED certification for Wellesley—the renovation of the Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall received gold certification earlier in 2011. To achieve the rating for the Observatory, a new roof with insulation and windows were installed, as well as low-flow fixtures in the bathrooms. Much of the renovation focused on creating more efficient mechanical systems and upgrading lighting.

“Overall, the building’s efficiency has been brought up significantly,” Willoughby says.

Next up on the sustainability front, Willoughby is working on efforts to conserve thermal energy—both heat and electrical—during Wintersession. With the College’s $5 million tab for utilities annually, even a one or two percent reduction in energy use can make a big difference.