Law School Addition Receives Top Sustainability Certification

A new addition to Cornell Law School’s Myron Taylor Hall won a top honor in environmental sustainability...

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By Zoe Gerguson via the Cornell Daily Sun, 1/20/15

A new addition to Cornell Law School’s Myron Taylor Hall has won a top honor in environmental sustainability — the United States Green Building Council awarded the building a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum certification, the highest possible accreditation.

According to Matthew Kozlowski, green building program manager for Facilities Services, LEED is “the industry standard for measuring the environmental performance of a building design.”

As part of the U.S. Green Building Council, the LEED program recognizes environmentally progressive buildings that promote sustainable energy and an equally sustainable budget.

The certification, which the Myron Taylor Hall addition received in December, is Cornell’s second; the Human Ecology building was certified Platinum in 2011. According to Kozlowski, there are a total of 15 LEED certified buildings on Cornell’s campus: two Silver certified, 11 Gold and two Platinum.

“We try and operate all of Cornell’s buildings as ‘green’ as we can and perform energy efficiency upgrades wherever possible,” Kozlowski said. “However, since 2008, it has been University policy that all new major construction or renovation projects must be at a minimum LEED Silver certified.”

Construction on the Myron Taylor Hall addition began in spring 2012 and was completed last fall. According to Richard Robinson, associate dean of administration and finance for the Law School, the project was designed and constructed by Ann Beha Architects and Welliver Construction of Elmira, with assistance from Cornell’s Facilities Services.

Designed by Scott Aquilina, the addition includes a new underground academic space beneath the existing lawn adjacent to the law school.

According to Ann Beha Architects, the underground academic facility includes three-tiered classrooms, as well as break room spaces and a lobby.

Kozlowski said the most progressive aspect of the new addition is the fact that it is underground, which makes the building highly energy efficient.

“[The building] is totally covered by a green roof,” he said. “Our modeling shows that the building should be about 64 percent more efficient than a standard building.”

Robinson also commended the engineers for creating integrated systems.

“The engineers were able to design heating, cooling and ventilation systems that were state of the art and took advantage of the classrooms being underground,” he said.

Above ground, the new Law School Commons includes lounge space and a café for students and faculty, according to the Ann Beha Architects website.

The budget for the addition was set at $23.8 million, according to Robinson. It is the first of three phases of the Law School’s master capital plan to be completed — while Phase II will focus on the renovation of Hughes Hall, Phase III will involve the renovation of Myron Taylor Hall.

Robinson said he and his colleagues were “excited” about the LEED recognition.

“The Law School was extremely pleased and excited that the new classroom addition and entryway was awarded the LEED Platinum certification,” Robinson said.

He added that because of its “natural” design components, the addition has quickly become a popular destination for students and faculty alike.

“Although underground, the design of the classrooms brings natural light into the space and avoids any feeling of being below the lawn panel and sidewalks between Anabel and Myron Taylor Halls,” he said. “The three new classrooms are now the most popular teaching spaces for the faculty and students.”

According to Robinson, the law school decided to reach for a Platinum certification from the start of the project.

“When the Law School began the project, we had focused on obtaining a high level of LEED certification as part of our efforts to reduce energy costs and support the sustainability efforts of the Law School and University.”

“When we realized that Platinum certification was obtainable, we put extra effort into achieving certification at that level,” he said. “These efforts obviously paid off.”

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