By Dan Landau
The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded LEED Gold status to Fairleigh Dickinson University’s newest academic building, the John and Joan Monninger Center for Learning and Research at the College at Florham in Madison, N.J.
“The University chose to design and construct the new Monninger Center building to LEED standards as a LEED building’s performance is much more efficient from a utility consumption perspective and because it is the right thing to do,” says Dick Frick, associate vice president for facilities.
Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) has four levels of certification—Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platimium—which are awarded based on the total number of points earned within six categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design. FDU’s certification was based on several green design and construction features, including:
- A 20-kilowatt solar panel on the roof
- Exterior venetian blind-style sun shades to keep out the heat from sunlight
- Highly efficient glass and insulated panels throughout the building
- A very large skylight in the lobby that lets in natural light
- Small windows high in the building that allow for a great deal of natural light without the sun’s heat
- The HVAC and boilers are highly efficient and comply with LEED requirements
- Two bike racks outside and two shower stalls in the building to encourage faculty, students and staff to ride bicycles to campus
- The roof is very well insulated and made of reflective materials, eliminating heat gain or cooling loss.
- Water fountains are designed for the easy refill of water bottles
- All paints, adhesives, and building products (sheetrock, carpet, etc.) are all either free of volatile organic compounds or contain only trace amounts.
These “green” features are not lost on the students. “My favorite part of the Monninger Center is all the sunlight it lets in,” says Jessica Denza, a senior majoring in hospitality. “It feels like you are outside, even if you are stuck inside doing homework all day.”
“We have been extremely pleased with the miniscule increase in both utility consumption and cost,” says Frick. “The efficient, tight building envelope, efficient fixtures and equipment, automatic light dimming functionality, and use of natural light all contribute to the efficiency of the building. Everyone involved in the project succeeded in creating a building that clearly contributes to the success of the academic programs in an environmentally sound space.”
The Monninger Center opened in January 2013
and houses the campus library; the Academic Support Center; the college writing program offices; a 90-seat lecture hall; several “smart,” technology-embedded classrooms; and study areas for students.
The “smart” classrooms have the capability to record and archive class sessions, making it possible for students to review the classes later on, as well as 80-inch touch panel monitors that also double as whiteboards and store the information written on them.
“The Monninger Center is not merely a center,” says Peter Woolley, campus provost. “It is a downtown. The fact that our downtown is LEED Gold, reflects our values as good citizens of the earth and also reflects good leadership from all those who planned and constructed the space.”
The staff in the Monninger Center agree with Woolley’s “downtown” analogy. “The Monninger Center has been a great addition to the campus,” says Katie Carpenter, an administrative assistant in the library. “It has provided the students with extensive work areas for studying and gathering in groups. The open space by the balcony is always filled with students.
“It’s nice to have the writing department and the academic support center along with the library all together under one roof. The students seem to like having the three departments all together too,” continues Carpenter.
The Monninger Center is as Woolley put it, “a bridge between residence halls and classroom destinations.”
Read more about the Monninger Center’s features here