315 Thayer Street at Brown University awarded LEED Gold certification

315 Thayer Street at Brown University, a design/build renovation project that converted the historic apartment building into a suite-style residence hall, has been awarded LEED Gold Certification through the US Green Building Council. Brown University has had a commitment to energy efficiency and high performance design in buildings for over 20 years. The rejuvenation of this building on campus by LLB Architects is yet another precedent for practicing sustainable design principles through maximizing efficiency with existing structures. Below are the details on how the project received LEED Gold in each of the rating categories.


Construction activity pollution was prevented and limited to stay within the site boundary. The project met EPA’s standard of limiting construction pollution.

The building is an existing structure that underwent a major renovation. The site boundary was therefore a previously developed site, limiting and avoiding disturbance on undeveloped land.

The site is located at the heart of the city of Providence’s east side and such is very accessibly located to the public transportation. The dormitory is located within 0.2 miles or 2-3 block walking distance to 8 Rhode Island Public Transportation buses and the residents also have access to 4 university shuttles. Being part of the city fabric also ensures residents access to a multitude of community services such as access to coffee shops, restaurants, clothing retailers, grocery stores, post office and several more. All of these services are accessible on foot with side walk paved, tree lined streets all within a 5-10 block radius of the building site.

Due to the urban location of the site, the building footprint takes up 90% of the site area. The site therefore does not provide any parking for its occupants. In lieu of car parking spots there are indoor and outdoor bike stands. Also as previously mentioned the site is located in a very walkable neighborhood.

The site provides for minimal landscaping, it has a courtyard with seating and landscaping for residents and visitors. The remaining site area is pedestrian oriented hardscape that is paved with open grid pavers that allow for storm water internment on site and have a high Solar Reflectance Index that reduces the overall Heat Island Effect for the site.

Water Management:

The building uses water efficient and low flow, plumbing fixtures (faucets, flushes, shower heads etc.) to reduce the overall potable water usage of the building by 45% as compared to a traditional building.

The building has only planted native plants that don’t require a permanent irrigation system. The landscaping can thrive just on regular rain fall and therefore reduces the amount of water required by the building.

Energy Efficiency:

The dormitory building has gone through a major retrofit, with a great deal of focus on improving the overall energy efficiency. The building was originally a masonry construction from 1910 with minimal to no added insulation. With the renovation, the design team built out all the walls to improve the quality of the existing building envelope.

The upgraded mechanical and lighting systems for the building also are highly energy efficient. Overall they reduce the buildings energy consumption by 31% as compared to the systems in place before the renovation. It also provides a 20% cost savings on the energy bills for the building.

Materials and Finishes:

The project diverted 87% of its on-site generated waste during construction to a recycling facility instead of sending it to a landfill. The building also utilized 90% of the existing building structural elements and the exterior envelope so as to reduce the pressure on virgin construction materials. Whatever could be re-utilized was re-employed for the renovation.

The design team put a strong emphasis on installing materials that were manufactured with recycled materials as well as materials that were sourced and produced locally. Finishes such as the flooring materials to ceiling tiles, door frames, doors, storefronts all have recycled content. Materials such as the landscape pavers, floor tiles,carpet were all made with raw materials sourced and manufactured regionally and were high in recycled content.

Air Quality:

The project reduces the exposure of its occupants to tobacco smoke by prohibiting smoking not just within the building but also in its extended site by prohibiting smoking anywhere within the 35 foot radius outside the building. This rule applies to all of Brown University Campus buildings.

To further improve the air quality of the building the HVAC system uses higher quality air filters to ensure healthy air circulation throughout the building.

During construction materials/ chemicals used inside the building, such as paint, sealants, caulking etc all comply with or are below the allowable VOC limit as set by the EPA. Using eco-friendly products with low VOC content provides a better indoor air quality for the occupants and reduces the amount of harmful chemicals that are used and released into the environment.

Indoor Environment:

The building uses occupancy sensors in combination with individual lighting controls, daylight and window shades to provide occupants with a greater control over lighting within the building. These not only provide occupants with a control over their environment, but are also reduce energy waste in the building.

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