Grand Rapids Community College’s newly named and remodeled Stewart Edward White Hall recently earned a Silver Certification from LEED for environmentally friendly design.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is designated through the United States Green Building Council to recognize environmentally friendly and sustainable buildings.
The following changes were made to the historical building:
- reduction in water use by 40 percent through updated equipment and fixtures
- installation of bicycle racks to encourage car-less commuting
- use of low VOC paints and adhesives for better air quality
- recycling of 90 percent of construction materials to leave a lower environmental impact
- improvement of heating and cooling efficiency with the addition of new insulation, interior storm windows and duct systems
- updated Energy Star-rated appliances and occupancy sensors were also influential on the building’s silver rating
Although White Hall was remodeled to adhere to the stringent guidelines of LEED, it was also important that the building retained its historical qualities.
"It was clear from the beginning that GRCC wanted to renovate the 100-year-old home so that it would meet LEED, Heritage Hill, and the Historic Preservation Commission standards. It is a project that Progressive AE is proud of—along with our construction partners—and one that I know the college is proud of as well," said Brad Thomas, President and CEO of Progressive AE, who oversaw the redesign.
Rockford Construction, one of the construction partners, added their approval to the historic emphasis maintained throughout the project. "We were pleased to partner with Progressive AE, Pride Builders Group, and many of our subcontractors to do this historic project for GRCC," said Mike Van Gessel, Chairman and CEO of Rockford Construction. “We know that this work reflects GRCC's commitment to renovating existing facilities, and fully support GRCC’s efforts in seeking the bond referendum, allowing them to continue this work throughout its other campus renovation projects.”
During the process, remodelers took care to leave the building’s original structure intact. The original hardwood floors, exterior cyprus wood windows, gold –inlaid ceiling and office walls were refurbished to preserve the history of the building. A more than 200-year-old grandfather clock has also stayed with the building.
The Meijer Foundation, whose contribution to the College’s recent capital campaign made the remodel possible, asked that the building be renamed White Hall to honor local author Stewart Edward White. The building was originally built by White’s family, and a painting created by the White family remains on display in the building.
Beyond the environmental and historical impacts, the remodeling included increased accessibility through the installation of an elevator and barrier-free exterior ramp.
Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for over 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several additional locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.