Kendall Earns LEED Gold Certification

Posted November 28, 2012 in Campus


Kendall has been awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the nation’s preeminent third party certification program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. Earlier this year, Kendall took up residence in the newly renovated, redeveloped Historic Federal Building, a stately 1911 Beaux Arts-style building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It’s been said that ‘the greenest building is one you don’t have to build,’ which is something we understood we had going for us from the beginning,” said Ferris president David Eisler.  “There is an embodied energy that goes with the restoration and adaptive reuse of an historic building such as this, and so we always knew we wanted to tap into that and bring this beautiful old gem in the heart of Grand Rapids back to life in the most sustainable way possible.”

The end result is already positively impacting the students and staff, according to Sandra Davison-Wilson, Kendall vice president for administration and finance. “Between the air quality, restored features and open spaces, the building is already emerging as a highly desirable and inspirational space for our artists,” said Davison-Wilson. “It’s truly an outstanding opportunity for students.”

Gold certification, the second highest available, was achieved through a concerted, collaborative effort on behalf of all of the project contributors, according to Jim Cash, president and chief operating officer of Christman Capital Development Company, the project’s development and construction partner.  “Between Ferris, Kendall, architects TowerPinkster and Hopkins Burns, Christman and so many others, the vision of a sustainable teaching environment helped shape the team’s decision-making every step of the way,” said Cash.

LEED certification of Kendall was based on a number of green design and construction features that positively impact the project itself and the broader community. These features include:

Sustainable Site:  What was once a decaying and functionally obsolescent building was given a new purpose and modern use. The location takes full advantage of pedestrian access to community services and bus lines, reducing the need for fossil fuel transportation. Biodiversity and walkability was promoted onsite through a high ratio of open space-to-building footprint. Light-colored concrete was used for hardscape to reduce the urban heat island effect and no new parking was added to the site.

Water Efficiency:The landscaping was designed to require 50% less irrigation, reducing the use of potable water. In addition, a 33% reduction in potable water and sewage usage was achieved by careful selection of water efficient plumbing fixtures, faucets, and flush valves. 

Energy and Atmosphere: Commissioning of all HVAC, lighting and domestic water systems was conducted to ensure that all systems operated as designed. All equipment was selected to cause minimal damage to the atmosphere. With the HVAC and lighting systems, the designs employed efficient equipment and technologies, resulting in projected use of 17% less energy than the baseline established by ASHRAE standard 90.1-2004. Each year, 575,266 kWh will be offset with renewable energy credits, reducing CO2 emissions by 1,287,286 lb/year; this translates to an annual reduction of emissions equivalent to planting 5,289 trees or not driving 1,621,955 miles.

Materials and Resources: During construction, 91% of all construction waste was reclaimed and recycled, while recycled materials were used extensively throughout the project. By cost, recycled materials made up 24% of the total cost of materials. Regionally extracted and manufactured materials were used extensively throughout the project; by cost, these materials made up 31% of the total material cost.

Indoor Environmental Quality: An indoor air quality (IAQ) plan was implemented and low-emitting materials were selected in order to reduce any adverse effects to the IAQ once the building was occupied. The HVAC system was designed to meet the minimum IAQ requirements and the outdoor air intake with CO2 controls provide efficient, healthy ventilation. No smoking is permitted within 25 feet of any air intake louvers or, in fact, at all within the building. Low VOC (volatile organic compound) materials such as paints, carpets, sealants, adhesives, and casework were employed in order to provide a healthy indoor environment.  The HVAC system was designed to maintain temperatures and humidity in accordance with ASHRAE standard 55-2004.

“Buildings are a prime example of how human systems integrate with natural systems,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO & founding chair, USGBC. “The Historic Federal Building project efficiently uses our natural resources and makes an immediate, positive impact on our planet, which will tremendously benefit future generations to come.”

"As the region makes itself known for sustainable design, Kendall, the only conservatory school of art and design in the region, must serve as a model for best practices.  I am proud of the achievement of the individuals and teams who made the certification possible—a certification at a level that is rare in any building and rarer yet in one that has been preserved so closely to its original historic state,” said Kendall President David Rosen.  “The Historic Federal Building is repository of an august heritage.  Through its certification, it creates a new heritage and becomes the ground for a promising future."

The U.S. Green Building Council is a nonprofit membership organization whose vision is a sustainable built environment within a generation. Its membership includes corporations, builders, universities, government agencies, and other nonprofit organizations. Since UGSBC’s founding in 1993, the Council has grown to more than 18,000 member companies and organizations, a comprehensive family of LEED green building rating systems, an expansive educational offering, and a network of 80 local chapters, affiliates, and organizing groups. For more information, visit