Columbia's Manhattanville Campus Earns LEED Platinum for Neighborhood Plan

May 24, 2012

Columbia University’s environmentally sustainable design and overall project plan for its 17-acre Manhattanville campus in West Harlem has earned LEED® Platinum under the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system established by the U.S. Green Building Council—its highest designation and the first LEED-ND Platinum certification in New York City, as well as the first Platinum certification for a university campus plan nationally.

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for optimal environmental and human health performance.

Columbia’s long-term Manhattanville campus plan in the onetime industrial area will create an energy-efficient, pedestrian-friendly environment, with lively local retail and culture and publicly accessible green space. It will bring together members of the University and local communities, and enhance connections between West Harlem and a revitalized Hudson River waterfront.

“We are proud to have earned the LEED Platinum recognition for sustainable neighborhood development,” said University President Lee C. Bollinger. “This is a milestone for Columbia not only because we are building a future in our home community in New York, but because we are doing so with a commitment to the best urban planning principles and the highest quality architecture that reflect both the core values of city life and the fundamental need for a more sustainable society. I want to thank the leadership team at Columbia Facilities and everyone at the University who works everyday to fulfill our commitments to environmental sustainability, energy efficiency and civic responsibility.”

In 2007, Columbia entered its Manhattanville plan in the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot program which integrates the principles of smart growth, new urbanism, and green building—the first national benchmark for neighborhood design. The rating system promotes smart location and design of neighborhoods that reduce vehicle miles traveled, and communities where jobs and services are accessible by foot or public transit.

More than 45,000 projects are currently participating in a number of commercial and institutional LEED rating systems, comprising over 8.4 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and 120 countries.

“LEED for Neighborhood Development bridges the gap between buildings and how they are connected,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the U.S.Green Building Council. “The Manhattanville campus will help usher in a new era of development of smarter, healthier communities across the globe.”

Additional strengths of the Manhattanville campus plan includes proximity to mass transit; planned mixed uses including arts, community, academic, retail and residential; open neighborhood access; green open space; pedestrian-friendly streets and sidewalks; and a commitment to best practices in clean, low-emission construction.

Before construction began, Columbia collaborated with the Environmental Defense Fund to ensure that all work applies the latest air pollution controls. Adhering to stringent environmental compliance requirements and the most advanced clean construction techniques, the University took steps to sharply reduce noise and vibrations, and traffic and business disruptions. Low-emission equipment and washing stations for trucks departing work sites limits the impact of construction on neighborhood air quality. During demolition and abatement phases, more than 90 percent of removed materials are salvaged and recycled.

In just the last few years, seven Columbia buildings earned LEED certifications. They include environmentally sustainable renovations of the Columbia Alumni Center (Gold), Faculty House (Gold) and Knox Hall (Gold) on the Morningside Heights campus, and individual floors of the Rosenfield Building (Gold) at the Mailman School of Public Health, and the Studebaker Building (Silver) on the Manhattanville campus. Newly constructed, LEED-certified buildings include Morningside’s Northwest Corner Building (Gold) and the Gary C. Comer Geochemistry Building (Silver) on the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory campus.

This article originally appeared on the Columbia Manhattanville website.