Kirner-Johnson Building
Kirner-Johnson Building

The Hamilton community’s sensitivity to its impact on the environment is reflected in several awards recently granted to the College by two national organizations. The College has been awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification, established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), for the renovated 40-year-old Kirner-Johnson (KJ) Building.

Economics Professor Paul Hagstrom, who served as the faculty liaison for the project for more than a decade, said, “As the users of Kirner-Johnson, we appreciate that, along with the function and aesthetics of the space, the College was dedicated to incorporating sustainable (or environmentally responsible) design.”

LEED is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. Another Hamilton campus building, Skenandoa House, had received LEED Silver certification in 2006, but this is the college’s first LEED Gold certified building. Five other colleges and one secondary school in New York State have buildings that have been certified LEED Gold.

LEED certification of building projects is difficult to achieve, since the projects must meet or exceed myriad requirements. Five environmental categories are defined in LEED including: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality. There are four certification levels: certified, silver, gold and platinum. It is Hamilton’s policy to build all new structures to LEED standards, whether or not the college decides to seek actual certification, a process which has significant expenses associated with it.

Like other renovation and construction projects on campus, the Kirner-Johnson project includes energy-efficient mechanical systems, environmentally friendly materials and improved indoor environmental quality. According to Steve Bellona, associate vice president for facilities and planning, KJ will provide a 25 to 28 percent savings in energy due to its layout and architecture.

In the renovation of KJ, creating an environmentally friendly building was accomplished while still maintaining a dynamic building design. The building was   selected for outstanding design and feted with a two-page spread in the Outstanding Design American School and University Portfolio for 2009.

KJ is home to Hamilton's social sciences departments. It also houses the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center, the Nesbitt-Johnston Writing Center and the Oral Communications Center.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings in the United States are responsible for 39% of CO2 emissions, 40% of energy consumption, 13% water consumption and 15% of GDP per year, making green building a source of significant economic and environmental opportunity. Greater building efficiency can meet 85% of future U.S. demand for energy, and a national commitment to green building has the potential to generate 2.5 million American jobs.

Those who were involved in the successful KJ renovation include Ewing Cole and Belson Design, the architects; The Saratoga Associates, the landscape architect and civil engineer; and ECOtelligent, the environmental consultant. In addition to Steve Bellona and Paul Hagstrom, several other Hamilton employees played significant roles in the building’s renovation. They include Frank Marsicane, Bill Huggins, Casey Wick, Cathy Brown, Chris Forte and Irene Cornish. They were engaged in developing the green concepts for the building.

In another “green” initiative, Hamilton has purchased renewable energy certificates this coming fiscal year including 100% renewable energy for KJ and Emerson Buildings plus another 4,000,000 kilowatts for the campus from Renewable Choice Energy. Skendandoa also uses 100% renewable energy from Sterling Planet through the National Grid Green Choice program.

Hamilton has received ENERGY STAR certification Skenandoa House and Spencer House. The ENERGY STAR is the mark of superior energy performance and identifies buildings as among the most efficient buildings in the nation.

All electrical power used in Skenandoa House is completely “green power” (wind, biomass, small hydro). While more expensive to purchase, green electrical power has reduced greenhouse gas production in carbon dioxide by 107.1 tons, nitrous oxide by 289.5 pounds and sulphur dioxide by 765 pounds. By purchasing 100 percent green power, Hamilton is also a member of EPA's Green Power Partnership.

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