Greener Pastures

Author: Rachel Novick


Geddes Hall, the first Notre Dame building expected to earn LEED certification, welcomed the Center for Social Concerns as its first occupants this week. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the national standard in green building. To achieve LEED certification, a building must meet high benchmarks for energy efficiency, water efficiency, indoor air quality, protection of natural resources, and waste reduction.

When you enter Geddes Hall, you notice the motion sensors, low flow faucets, shower and changing room for cyclists, rapidly renewable bamboo lining the Chapel and Coffee House walls, and recycled cork flooring in the entrance lobby.

What you don’t notice are the steel, gypsum, and concrete beneath the surface, all regionally sourced with recycled content. Also invisible are the high-performance wall and roof insulation, the low-E glazing on the windows, and, unless you climb on the flat portion of the roof, the reflective white membrane which reduces heat gain in the summer.

“The Center for Social Concerns strives to embody Catholic Social Teaching, and the LEED features of this building pay testimony to the principle of care for God’s creation,” said Michael Hebbeler, Program Director for Student Leadership and Senior Transitions at the CSC. “Hopefully Geddes Hall will serve as a harbinger for sustainable building practices on campus.”

Appropriately, one of the first events to be hosted in Geddes Hall will be a national conference on sustainability: Renewing the Campus: Sustainability and the Catholic University will take place there on the weekend of October 9th to 11th.

By the end of the year, the U.S. Green Building Council will have finished reviewing Geddes Hall’s application and will determine which level of LEED it has achieved. All Notre Dame buildings currently in design or construction are expected to achieve LEED certification upon completion. The next building to open is Ryan Hall, Notre Dame’s first green residence hall, which will welcome several hundred women at the end of August.