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Golkin Hall awarded Gold LEED status for environmental design

September 23, 2013

Golkin Hall, the newest addition to the four-building University of Pennsylvania Law School campus, has been awarded LEED Gold status for new construction by the U.S. Green Building Council, a coveted recognition of best-in-class building strategies for energy and environmental design.

The 40,000 squre foot building, which formally opened in April 2012, is part of a recently completed top-to-bottom renovation of the Law School’s physical plant.

In addition to incorporating advanced green features, Golkin Hall’s modern design integrates classrooms, administrative and faculty office space, and social areas. The design is intended to promote interaction among all members of the law school community, reinforcing its collegial culture. Besides classrooms and offices, Golkin Hall also features a state-of-the-art courtroom and 350-seat auditorium.

“We worked hard to create a green building and are honored to have achieved Gold Status,” said Jo-Ann Verrier L’83, Vice Dean for Administrative Services, who collaborated with Penn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services to oversee design and construction. “Golkin Hall solidifies Penn Law’s standing as the finest urban law school campus anywhere in the country. We wanted its construction to reflect our culture and values, which include being good stewards of the environment and good members of the community.”

The project broke ground in May 2010. The building features an inviting two-story lobby leading to a two-story west wing and a three-story east wing. Designed by the Boston-based firm Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Golkin Hall features roof-top gardens and green roofs, which were commended by the LEED certification, as part of an integrated storm water management strategy.

“The unspoken reward of this achievement is the everyday pleasure that sustainable strategies can bring to a place,” said Frano Violich, Principal at KVA. “As natural light falls into the below-grade Moot Court reducing electrical demands, as landscaped terraces reduce storm water that would otherwise flow into the Schuylkill River, and as undulating brick and marble combine to decrease heat loads along south-facing Sansom Street, there is the knowledge that students, faculty, and administrators are participants in a global effort to address climate change.  In this way Golkin Hall has itself become a teaching moment.” 

LEED (for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) new construction certification rates buildings along seven dimensions: sustainable site strategies, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, material and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation, and regional priority. Golkin Hall scored a total of 68 out of a possible 112 points.

The building earned an especially high score for indoor environmental quality, capturing 11 of 15 points for such things as its ventilation, thermal comfort, and use of low-emitting materials. It also scored high for its sustainable site selection (20 of 26 points), with reviewers singling out its location near alternative transportation and the building’s skillful integration into a dense urban environment.

The building puts an emphasis on integrating aspects of environmental sustainability, creating a healthy, light-filled indoor environment and reducing greenhouse gasses through energy-efficient design. One example: Golkin Hall’s rooftop gardens not only provide attractive areas for student and faculty collaboration but also reduce the amount of storm water entering the city’s combined sewer/waste water system, counteract the heat-island effect caused by conventional dark roofs.

The building was also cited for its use of regional materials. Gold certification is the second highest of four LEED designations.

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