Columbia University’s 17-acre Manhattanville campus in West Harlem has earned LEED Platinum certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Neighborhood Development rating system.
It’s the city’s first LEED ND certification and the first university campus in the nation to earn the award.
Columbia will create an energy-efficient, pedestrian-friendly environment, with local retail outlets and public green space to bring together the university and local communities, while adhering to strict guidelines set forth by LEED ND Platinum, university officials said.
“We are proud to have earned the LEED Platinum recognition for sustainable neighborhood development,” said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger in a statement. “This is a milestone for Columbia not only because we are building a future in our home community in New York, but because we are doing so with a commitment to the best urban planning principles and the highest quality architecture that reflect both the core values of city life and the fundamental need for a more sustainable society.”
The LEED (which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Neighborhood Development program is the first national benchmark for neighborhood design. The rating system promotes green infrastructure, open space, and the creation of communities that are accessible by foot or public transit.
Columbia entered Manhattanville – which will come to fruition over the next three decades – into a pilot program for LEED ND in 2007.
“Because this is a pilot program we were able to work closely with U.S. Green Building Council to apply the LEED for Neighborhood Development to a dense urban area,” said Philip Pitruzzello, vice president at Columbia for the Manhattanville development, who is responsible for development, design and construction at the site.
The university is using a “very comprehensive” plan to adhere to LEED Platinum standards, Pitruzzello said.
That starts with construction techniques that reduce noise and vibrations, limiting traffic and business disruptions, while low-emission equipment and washing stations for trucks will limit disruptions in air quality. Roughly 90 percent of demolition and abatement materials will be recycled.
Pitruzzello has been involved in other large-scale developments; he was president of the Battery Park City Authority and was in charge of real estate for Time Warner in the redevelopment of Columbus Circle.
But, he said, “This is truly unique. There is nothing similar to what we are doing here with LEED ND Platinum… we are very proud to be showing leadership in the field of higher education and neighborhood sustainability.”
Columbia collaborated with non-profit environmental consulting firms like Environmental Defense Fund and Atelier Ten to develop clean air, water and electricity standards, and the university is building a highly efficient, below ground centralized equipment room that will create a “much more positive urban design and street level experience,” Pitruzzello said.
In just last few years, Columbia has worked with the U.S. Green Building Council to achieve LEED certifications in seven buildings. The Manhattanville neighborhood plan sets a new bar, officials at the USGBC said.
“LEED for Neighborhood Development bridges the gap between buildings and how they are connected,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president and CEO at USGBC, in a statement. “The Manhattanville campus will help usher in a new era of development of smarter, healthier communities across the globe.”