Phillips Academy Dining Hall Goes Green
The renovation of Phillips Paresky Commons earned a LEED Silver certification as the dining hall goes through operational changes with the emphasis on sustainability
A push to buy local and use nearly all environmentally-conscious products characterizes one of the most recent renovation projects at Phillips Academy.
The renovation of Phillip Academy's 80-year-old Paresky Dining Commons this month earned a LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable design, construction and operations of buildings.
According to Director of Facilities Michael Williams and project overseer, the highly prized certification formally recognizes the environmentally and social responsible building practices employed during the 15 month project.
"We wanted to earn the LEED rating to certify our considerable sustainable initiatives using an accepted standard,” he explained.
The school reused and recycled more than 90 percent of all construction debris and installed a variety of new energy-efficient equipment.
Although this was the first time Phillips Academy has pursued formal recognition, Williams said that the school "has engaged in significant sustainable initiatives in all our projects for a very long time."
He pointed to the Gelb Science Center, which opened in 2004 and was designed to maximize the use of natural light. Also, the renovated Addison Gallery, which reopened in September, was fitted with solar screening and a green roof.
According to Williams the renovation of the 42,480 square foot historic structure met and exceeded a number of LEED Certification standards. In addition to the recycling of debris, more than 43% of building materials used were manufactured within 500 miles of the site, and almost 82% of wood based materials used were derived from socially and environmentally responsible foresters.
Paresky Commons since reopening March 2009, has served an average of 3,300 meals per day to approximately 1100 students, 225 faculty and family members and 350 staff, making it the largest single energy consumer on campus.
In order to make the dining commons more sustainable, Paresky Senior Food Services Director Paul Robarge noted that changes were made to reduce the facility's carbon footprint.
He gave examples of the institution of “trayless” dining resulting in 100 lbs a day reduction in food waste and water use, the institution of aggressive compacting and recycling of cardboard, paper and plastic, recycling of vegetable oil, 100% compostable service ware when china or melamine is not an option, and the use of environmentally-friendly cleaning products.
Robarge is transforming Paresky’s menu, and he explained that beginning next month all milk, eggs, yogurt, fruits and vegetables will be locally produced and certified organic whenever possible. Robarge added that all processed deli meats have been replaced with meats from a local farm, which are then roasted in Paresky.
When asked if Phillips Academy will pursue certifications for future projects, Williams responded, “We have been doing sustainable projects for many years well before it was fashionable, but we had elected not to pursue LEEDS in its early years due to the incremental costs and limited number of certified professionals.”
Although the process is now more routine and with most design and construction teams being certified, he explained that it stills adds costs especially for the long submittal and approval process.
“We are currently evaluating the advisability of doing more of these certified projects or alternatively continuing to invest our funds directly into sustainable components rather than processing fees,” he said.