01 Dec 2006
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Green as Gold

Hamilton sets the standard for efficiency and sustainability at HBS
by Paul Massari

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At first glance, Hamilton Hall looks the same as it has since the student residence was constructed eighty years ago. The building, home to 72 MBA students, blends seamlessly into the classic Georgian architecture of the HBS campus and frames a well-manicured courtyard before it. Step inside, though, and you’ll find that Hamilton has been renewed by a marriage of technology and environmental sustainability.

“Basically, the only thing we kept was the building’s exterior shell,” says Jason Carlson, project manager for contractor William A. Berry & Son. “We have new systems for air handling, lighting, plumbing, and climate control. The interior walls are new; even the furniture is new.”

Hamilton Hall is the first building on the HBS campus to obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, the U.S. Green Building Council’s “voluntary standard for developing high-performance, environmentally friendly buildings.”

In fact, Hamilton is so efficient in its use of water, energy, and green materials that it has earned gold certification, the second highest of LEED’s four ratings (platinum, gold, silver, and certified). Low-flow showerheads and dual-flush toilets now achieve a 30 percent reduction in water usage. Sensors conserve electricity by automatically reducing interior lighting according to the amount of sunlight in a room. New bureaus, desks, and bookshelves were constructed from Plyboo, a bamboo product that regenerates in about half the time of hardwood. A computerized building management system continuously tracks temperature and air quality, decreasing energy use when students leave their rooms. The new efficiencies will generate an estimated $35,000 in yearly savings.

Hamilton Hall may be the first sustainable building on the HBS campus, but it won’t be the last. Wyss House (formerly Sherman Hall) has also been renovated with the goal of obtaining LEED silver certification. Meghan Duggan, manager of energy and sustainable services for HBS Operations, says the School intends to use LEED standards to guide all future capital projects. “By following these guidelines, HBS can construct energy-efficient buildings with minimal environmental impact and demonstrate its commitment to building a sustainable campus.”

— Paul Massari

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