Sustainable Buildings

Front of brick building with green awnings
The renovation of Fort Bradshaw was completed in 2021.

The Williams College campus integrates historically important and newly-constructed buildings in order to meet the evolving needs of our vibrant campus community. Since buildings are among the most enduring and resource-intensive infrastructure on campus, they play an outsized role in meeting the college’s sustainability goals.

Together with Planning, Design and Construction, Facilities Operations and Maintenance, the Provost’s Office and the Office of the VP for Finance and Operations, the Zilkha Center works to embed sustainable building design, operations and maintenance principles into building renovations and new construction. The college also continues to pursue green building certifications such as ILFI Living Building Challenge, and Net Zero Energy certifications, Passive House, and LEED, where suitable and in conjunction with these guidelines.

  • The Williams College Sustainable Building Policy stipulates that all building projects of $5.3 million dollars or above must pursue LEED Gold certification (or a similarly high-performance building standard) or higher. The section below lists the certified buildings and explains the sustainable design choices behind them in detail.

    While LEED has been a pioneer in the high-performance building standard for some time, in recent years other organizations have brought new and innovative building certifications into the mainstream. The College has experimented with a couple of these certifications that require more sustainable building and operational practices including Living Building Challenge, Zero Energy Certification, and Passive House.

    As of 2019, new buildings constructed on campus have been integrating tenets from US Green Building Council (LEED), the International Living Future Institute (Living Building Challenge, Petal, Core, and Zero Energy Certifications), and Passive House International US.

    An explanation of the building certifications used at the college can be found here.

  • Green Gauges

    Another tool that the college uses to ensure high efficiency building performance is Green Gauges. Green Gauges is a guided process developed by Williams College to communicate fundamental information about a project’s green building characteristics. This process is employed in addition to—and interwoven with—the standard practice of architectural design and documentation and the college’s Sustainable Building Guidelines. The main goal of Green Gauges is to help Williams clearly understand the measurable effectiveness of sustainable building strategies.

    The information generated by the process helps identify what particular systems and approaches can be used to achieve desired sustainable building performance. Specifically, it answers these two basic questions:

    “What does it cost?”

    “What does it save?”

    The first part of Green Gauges allows the Design Team and Project Owner (the college) to evaluate various options early in the design phase, and make informed decisions as they relate to the Project Owner’s cost and sustainability objectives. The next part of the process tracks the results of the built systems, to see whether the building is performing as intended.

    Six contractual deliverables are required during design and construction. Each deliverable communicates specific information from the Design Team to the Project Owner about the fundamental building strategies being developed, and how those strategies impact cost, energy and operational carbon emissions. The review of the deliverable by the Design Team and Project Owner provides the opportunity to evaluate key information, make better decisions, and obtain approval for the project’s next steps.