Gary C. Comer Geochemistry Building Awarded LEED Silver

  Columbia University's First Certified LEED Project

Columbia's Geochemistry division is at the cutting-edge of environmental research, and now its building reflects this same commitment to sustainability. In January 2010, the award-winning Gary C. Comer Geochemistry Building became the University's first project to earn the U.S. Green Building Council's prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, at a silver rating.

The 70,000 square-foot Comer Building, which is part of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, houses extensive lab space directly supporting research and development to advance the understanding of climate science. The facility was completed in late 2007 to consolidate Columbia University's geochemistry department, which was previously scattered across the campus under one roof. 

The building's sustainable features comprise every aspect of its design and construction. Its site selection was conscientiously performed to conserve trees and open spaces.  It has an air conditioning system that uses high efficiency chillers with non-depleting refrigerants, natural ventilation for offices, occupancy sensors to control lighting and temperatures, energy recovery from the ventilation system, daylight harvesting and high efficiency light fixtures. Ninety percent of occupied spaces have daylight and views. The building is also close to public transportation, offers bike racks and showers, and provides parking spaces for fuel-efficient vehicles and car pools.

"We are thrilled to receive this designation," said Joe Ienuso, executive vice president of Columbia University Facilities. "As our first LEED certified building, the Comer Building demonstrates the University's twin commitments to support cutting-edge environmental research and to house that research within environmentally responsible spaces."

The LEED Rating System encourages and facilitates the development of sustainable buildings. Points are awarded within each of the six environmental categories, including: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation in Design. The Comer Building was awarded an impressive 35 out of 36 total points attempted.

In addition to its LEED Silver certification, the Comer Building was named the 2009 "Lab of the Year" by Research and Development magazine and has been featured in USA Today and the Chronicle of Higher Education for its unique design and energy efficiency. The building also won sustainable design and excellence in architecture awards from the Environmental Protection Agency and the American Institute of Architects.  The building is a fitting tribute to Lands' End founder and global climate change activist Gary C. Comer, for whom the building is named.

Four other Columbia buildings are currently pursuing LEED certification: the restoration of Faculty House, the University's premier meeting and event space; the renovation of Knox Hall, the new home of Columbia's Departments of Sociology, MEALAC, Middle East Institute, South Asia Institute and the Institute of African Studies; the renovation of McVickar Hall as the new Columbia Alumni Center; and construction of the Northwest Corner Building, the University's new interdisciplinary science building.  Columbia is also a Challenge Partner in Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC 2030, the city's comprehensive plan to create a more sustainable New York.

"The University is dedicated to leading the way as sustainable builders and environmental stewards," said Ienuso.

‘LEED' and related logo is a trademark owned by the U.S. Green Building Council and is used by permission.