Ohio University

Ohio University’s Ellis Hall Awarded LEED Gold Certification

Published: December 16, 2019 Author: Staff reports

Ohio University’s Ellis Hall has been awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for a complete renovation of the 115-year-old building.

The Ellis Hall project earned LEED Gold certification for implementing sustainable and high-performance construction strategies in areas including site development, energy efficiency, materials and resources, waste management, water efficiency and indoor environmental quality.

“The College of Arts & Sciences is quite pleased that the Ellis Hall renovation project received LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council,” Senior Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Brian McCarthy said. “We think this speaks very highly of Ohio University’s Architecture, Design & Construction team and their commitment to sustainability and environmentally friendly decisions made during the construction process.”

The foyer of Ellis Hall after renovation.

The LEED rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is the foremost program for buildings, homes, and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance. LEED Gold certification is the second highest rating awarded by USGBC. The rating takes into consideration the construction materials, processes, water management, lighting, ventilation, energy, and other attributes for sustainability and quality of life.

The original construction of Ellis Hall was completed in 1904, with additions added in 1906 and 1908. The recent renovation project upgraded the building to a state-of-the-art facility for the departments of English, Philosophy and World Religions. The new design provides modern classrooms, offices, student and faculty collaboration spaces, seminar rooms, and a student publishing space.

Accessibility features were also a focal part of renovation planning. The project included installation of a new elevator and improved wheelchair accessibility through a lift to create a path from a partially raised western entrance to a floor that has elevator access. The project achieved maximum LEED points for community connectivity and public transportation access due to the location of Ellis Hall on OHIO’s iconic College Green. The location on the edge of the uptown Athens business district links building users to numerous city and campus transportation routes, as well as a wide variety of neighborhood amenities.

“It is an honor to achieve LEED certification for the Ellis Hall renovation because it emphasizes the importance Ohio University has placed on student accessibility and sustainability in our buildings,” President M. Duane Nellis said. “As one of the most iconic and utilized buildings on campus, we wanted to assure that students feel welcomed and are able to learn in a healthy, sustainable environment.”

Sustainability features include LED lighting, low-flow toilets and sinks, drought-tolerant trees and shrubs, new insulation, new windows and a modern, energy-efficient heating and cooling system. 

Champlin Architecture’s Mike Murphy, who led the project, explained that the project team was able to design a contemporary HVAC system “that meets the thermal comfort needs for the building’s day-to-day users as well as the energy efficiency goals of the University. The comparison of this new system to the existing system allowed for a significant LEED score in this area because of the commitment of the University to improving energy efficiency and lowering maintenance costs for facilities campus wide.”

Murphy also pointed out that the building’s structural system of thick masonry bearing walls meant that much of the existing interior and exterior structural system needed to be maintained. The project earned LEED points for retaining much of the original building components and utilizing innovative design strategies to connect circulation spaces to main public areas.

The project, including the LEED certification process, complements President Nellis’ goal of enhancing the University’s national position as a leading-edge laboratory for sustainability.

Ellis Hall becomes the thirteenth LEED project to be certified on the Athens Campus, and the fourth project to achieve Gold status.