A window-lit lounge and study space on the second level of the Health, Science and Technology building. The new HST building is pursuing a LEED Gold certification and Fitwel Three Star certification. (Sam Barney-Gibbs/ B&W Staff)

Health, Science and Technology Building to pursue sustainability certifications

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Lehigh’s new Health, Science and Technology Building is the first building on campus to pursue both a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification and Fitwell Three Star certification. 

According to Lehigh’s sustainability website, the LEED Green Building Rating System sets criteria to rate a building’s environmental efficacy, creating a national standard for high-performance, sustainable buildings. Features of the rating system include water efficiency, lighting efficiency and energy recovery. 

Many buildings on Lehigh’s campus, including the  STEPS building, Williams Hall and the Singleton, Hitch and Maida houses, currently have LEED Silver certifications, but the HST building could be the first to reach gold status.

“LEED certification is Lehigh’s goal to be more sustainable by using less energy and more recyclable goods in building projects,” said George Yasko, director of the HST building. 

Joe Klocek, assistant director of design and construction for LU Facilities, said for all of Lehigh’s new building projects, the base-goal is to receive LEED Silver certification.

In order to achieve LEED Gold certification, buildings need to have a green cleaning program, bicycle infrastructure, ample opportunity for natural light, and recycled building materials, according to the LEED website

“HST is a brand new way to work at Lehigh,” Yasko said. “It boasts an open and shared environment for both the working and laboratory spaces.” 

Klocek said when designing the HST building, very few additions were needed to be made to achieve LEED gold status on the scoring matrix. He said LEED criterias can also be used for the future renovations of existing buildings, which has been done in Chandler-Ullman and Williams Hall, which are now LEED Silver certified. 

The HST building is also pursuing a Fitwel certification, which is a healthy building design developed by the CDC. According to the Lehigh sustainability website, this certification acknowledges that the building promotes healthy living in the workplace. Components of the credential include healthy eating options, signage promoting sustainable activities and a walkable or active location. 

The HST building is pursuing the Three Star certification, which is the highest Fitwel certification a building can receive. Yasko said this building is the first on campus to aim for the Three Star certification.

“Hopefully, more buildings on campus will pursue Fitwel certification in the future,” Yasko said. 

Yasko said the Fitwell certification also requires buildings to provide programming that supports employees’ mental and physical well-being. He said the HST building must provide a minimum of two programs per month that relate to Fitwel and also establish Fitwel partners in the community. 

Klocek said the HST building must also get recertified for Fitwel every three years. 

“The Fitwell certification is a way of policing ourselves to maintain a sustainable environment,” Klocek said. “It holds us to a higher standard to continue to meet standards well beyond opening day.”

Yasko said the HST building currently features state-of-the-art lighting and control systems, which reduce energy costs and support a healthier work environment through scheduled air and water quality checks. He said the construction company that worked on the HST building also had to meet recycling goals each month of the project to remain on track.

The HST building is still closed to the general student body, but some College of Health students have had recent opportunities to go inside. 

Christine Kwon, ‘24, a population health major, said it is evident that the HST building is working toward creating a sustainable environment.

“There are many plants in and throughout the building, as well as low water use in the restrooms,” Kwon said. “I’m looking forward to the cafe opening and offering healthy options on campus for students. I hope other cafes on campus will be encouraged to meet the certification’s call for healthy food too.”

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