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Letter: Failure to LEED

To the Editor, I read with great interest the recent article about the construction progress of the new Welcome Center at the Main Gate. (April 20, 2017). There was no mention, however, of it being built according to LEED standards, that is, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. [caption id="attachment_19010" align="aligncenter" width="522"] Photo via[/caption] These standards have been well-established for many years by the U.S. Green Building Council and provide for the designation of a building as resource efficient. By being built according to these standards, LEED buildings use less water and energy over their lifetimes and, as a result, greatly reduce carbon emissions. According to the Green Building Council’s website, 1.85 million square feet of new or renovated spaces are certified as LEED every day in the United States. Has the new Welcome Center been designed and is it being built according to LEED principles? In order to find out, I contacted the Seton Hall Vice President for Facilities, Mr. John Signorello. He replied and asked me to send him a specific question. I wrote: “Has it been designed and it is being built according to LEED principles? And if not, why not?” I have not yet received an answer to my query. When I have asked about LEED construction on campus in the past, I was told that it was too expensive to do so. In fact, the initial expenses are recouped within a few years by reducing long-term costs for energy and water. Moreover, buildings can be built according to LEED principles without applying for the official certifications which can add to costs. At a time when Seton Hall is growing and expanding in so many ways, LEED buildings would be a significant indication that the university is doing everything it can to mitigate the effects of climate change. Not only would it be sound environmental practice and excellent public relations to do so, it would show that the university takes Pope Francis’s injunctions seriously to help address the greatest environmental challenge of our times. It is all well and good to have a Christian symbol on the top of the Welcome Center, but it also matters how the Center is built in order to make it as environmentally sound as possible. Neglecting to do so is an egregious failure to LEED. Sincerely yours, Judith Chelius Stark, Ph.D. Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies


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