The College of Lake County's Science Building has been given a platinum rating under the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification system and scored higher than any other newly constructed building in Illinois.
David Husemoller, CLC's sustainability manager, said the building's design earned 90 out of 110 possible points from LEED certifiers. He said any building that scores 80 points or higher is rated platinum, the top category, and only 35 new buildings in Illinois have such a distinction.
"The effort that went into this building is going to pay off financially, but also we hope to inspire students and the community to shoot high in terms of building excellence and sustainability," Husemoller said.
The building, which opened for use in January 2018, houses many of the college's laboratory science programs as well as engineering classes.
Husemoller said the honor justifies the effort that went into designing the building. Among the most important green features are the geothermal wells. Massive pumps on the building's fourth floor draw groundwater from deep wells into pipes. The water is always around 55 degrees, helping warm the building in the winter and cool it during the summer. Husemoller said it has worked so well that the backup conventional heating system didn't even switch on until the polar vortex hit two weeks ago.
The building's roof has 187 solar panels on one section, and a 1,500-square-foot green roof that captures rainwater runoff on another. The rainwater is used in the building's toilets as a way to further save on energy.
Husemoller said he has yet to completely tabulate the energy savings the college has enjoyed but he expects it has used two-thirds the energy compared to a conventional building.
The environmentally friendly design has earned the school several green awards, including the Emerald Award for Building Innovation from the Illinois chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council in 2018. In 2017, CLC earned a "silver" rating from the Association for the Advancement for Sustainability in Higher Education. And in 2016, CLC won the American Association of Community Colleges Green Genome Award, a national award for sustainability.
"(It) embodies the college's commitment to and integration of environmental, economic and social sustainability in its operations and academic programs," CLC President Lori Suddick said. "The building serves as a living laboratory, inspiring students to learn sustainability practices they can use in their future career fields."