GGC Student Center attains LEED Silver certification

GGC Student Center

GGC Student Center 

Georgia Gwinnett College’s student center recently earned LEED Silver certification.  
 
Currently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the #5 top Southern public regional college, GGC has been committed to maximizing green initiatives since its founding in 2005. Its Library and Learning Center is only the nation’s seventh academic library to earn LEED Gold certification. The college’s comprehensive, campus-wide sustainability programs, including a campus vegetable garden, enhance the state’s reputation as a top 10 leader in green/LEED development. 
 
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is the stringent environmental certification of the U.S. Green Building Council. 
 
“We’re big believers that independent third-party certification is a critical part of the program,” said Dennis Creech, executive director of Southface, an affiliate of the U.S. Green Building Council. “People can make claims about green, but you ought to be saying, ‘Prove it,’ and that’s what that certification says. Green is a term that can be defined many different ways and that’s why certification is so important.”
 
The student center’s brick, steel and glass exterior complements the rest of the campus’ buildings. Inside, it features a dramatic stairway, gathering spaces that take full advantage of natural light flowing through a three-story glass curtain wall, and a color scheme selected by students. An outdoor terrace and dining area overlook a water feature that doubles as an irrigation resource.
 
The 81,397-sq. ft., $24.5 million student center features a comprehensive dining facility, which seats more than 500 and offers a pasta and pizza area, standard grill, stir-fry grill, freshly prepared food section, sandwich area, southern home-cooked meals counter, dessert and pastry area, coffee service, ice cream server and a salad bar. The building also contains a game room, mail center, copy center, book store, several meeting rooms  and an assortment of offices. The college presents a variety of events in the building’s large venue interactive space, which can seat about 650.
 
“One of the core principles of GGC is the close connection between academic and student affairs,” said Jim Fatzinger, associate provost, Student Affairs. “Even our campus housing facilities offer vibrant programming for residents and non-residents alike. We use the outstanding design of the student center to attract students out of the residence halls to interact with not only other residents, but also with commuter students to share one Georgia Gwinnett College experience.”
 
GGC has LEED-accredited faculty members, a sustainability committee, storm-water management, a farmers’ market once or twice a year, green spaces, walking trails, and a comprehensive recycling program. Students are involved in all key decisions. 
 
“GGC was envisioned to be a wellspring of new ideas and innovation,” said Fatzinger. “We remain true to our mission, involving students, faculty and staff in every phase of our construction process. And the facilities team, led by Rex Kizzort, was enormously supportive in encouraging that. GGC reinforces sustainability while being good stewards of taxpayer and student dollars.”
 
Kizzort, now a program manager at the college, said that design and construction teams were challenged throughout the process to be as green as possible.
 
“LEED standards and cost are not necessarily mutually exclusive,” he said. “While LEED does have a cost associated with the certification, LEED also encourages efficiencies that result in long-term cost savings.”
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