LaGrange College library earns ‘green’ certification
Nov. 3, 2009

The new Frank and Laura Lewis Library at LaGrange College was awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver certification Monday, making it only the third library in the state – and the first outside the Atlanta area – to win that “green” designation.

LEED is the nationally accepted rating system for high-performance sustainable structures and is administered by the United States Green Building Council.

Holley Henderson with H2 Ecodesign, an environmental consultant firm who worked on the library project, presented the award to the college.

“You are the pioneers,” she said. “You are living examples of the eco-challenges and the knowledge found in the books housed here.”

The announcement was made Monday afternoon during a book signing by Ray Anderson, founder and chairman of Georgia-based Interface, the world’s largest producer of commercial floor coverings. Anderson has been a champion of the “green” movement for 15 years, making Interface the world's first industrial firm devoted to sustainability. He is a former LaGrange College trustee who challenged the institution to build “green.”

“I am proud that LaGrange College committed itself to be a leader in the sustainability movement,” said Dan McAlexander, college president. “And the reason we got into this business is Ray Anderson. He is one of the world’s most compelling thinkers about what it means to live in our world at this time.”

Anderson has a long relationship with LaGrange College, serving as a member of the President’s Advisory Council. He has been an active champion of the school’s sustainability efforts, which include the first Energy Star-rated college facilities in the state and the distinction of being one of the first 10 schools in the nation to submit its Climate Action Plan to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

Anderson’s new book, “Confession of a Radical Industrialist,” offers a guide for manufacturing on how to become more sustainable. But he said change is slow to come.

“We are in the very early days of this environmental revolution,” he said. “The drive for this has to be business. The educational institutions have enormous influence on how they train new business leaders, but the push for this revolution has to come from the business world.”

The library, dedicated this spring, is a 45,000-square foot facility that includes many environmentally responsible features:

  • Recycled and energy-efficient construction materials
  • Dual-flush toilets and waterless urinals, reducing water usage by 30 percent
  • Designated parking spaces for carpool and fuel-efficient vehicles
  • Daylight available to 75 percent of its visitors.

Previously an asphalt parking lot for 300 automobiles, much of the 2.4 acre site surrounding the library has been returned to green space, minimizing the building’s impact on the earth.

During site demolition last fall, asphalt and concrete were hauled away for grinding and recycling. Workers minimized daily construction waste by using separate containers to process recyclables like wood, cardboard, plastic and scrap metal.

LEED is a voluntary, performance-oriented rating system where credits are earned for satisfying criteria based on accepted energy and environmental practices. Projects can achieve this certification by earning points for excellence in areas including water efficiency, energy use, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and sustainable sites.

A four-year liberal arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church, LaGrange College is consistently ranked in the top 10 and as a “best value” among 96 Southern baccalaureate colleges by U.S.News & World Report. The college is the oldest private institution of higher learning in Georgia and has an enrollment of more than 1,000 students.

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