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.
The Zilkha Center works with Planning, Design and Construction, Facilities Operations and Maintenance, the Provost’s Office, the Office of the VP for Finance and Operations, and others to embed sustainable building design, operations and maintenance principles into building renovations and new construction through green and sustainable building certifications such as ILFI Living Building Challenge, and Net Zero Energy certifications, Passive House, and LEED.
For nearly two decades, new buildings construction on campus has used tenets from green building design and construction standards, including the 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 overview of these building certifications can be found here.
In June 2023, the Board of Trustees endorsed the college's updated and expanded Sustainable Building Policy. It continues the minimum building performance requirement for larger capital projects — LEED Gold — while leaning more heavily into regenerative building design and operating principles as embodied by the International Living Future Institute's Living Building challenge and supplemental standards focusing on high energy efficiency and low carbon emissions such as zero energy, zero carbon and passive house designs.
The policy consists of two parts: one for smaller capital projects, which often do not involve new building construction and are more limited in scope and design flexibility, and one for large capital projects, which typically involve new structures or gut renovations and which provide opportunities for the holistic integration of sustainable design principles. A third part specifically targeting sustainability integration into asset renewal projects is in development.
The following is a list of capital project undertaken by the college since 2008 and the associated sustainable building certifications.
Building Year Certification Standard Actual/Modeled
Other Info Hollander Hall 2008 LEED Gold Schapiro Hall 2008 LEED Gold Sawyer Library 2014 LEED Gold Weston Athletic Complex 2014 LEED Gold Class of 1966 Environmental Center 2015
LBC Petal certified 2017
Seeking LBC Full Living Certification
'66 Environmental Center website Weston Hall 2016 LEED Gold 44 Horn Hall 2016 LEED Platinum 29/25 Horn Hall "Waking Tour" brochure Williams Bookstore 2017 LEED Platinum 40 Bookstore"Sustainability Tour" brochure Garfield House 2019 LEED Gold + Passive House 28 "Sustainability Tour" brochure
"Garfield House One of Two Passive Houses in State" (2019)
Williams Inn 2019 LEED Gold 60 Williams Inn "Sustainability Tour" brochure Fellows Hall (CDE) 2019 ILFI Zero Energy ** Fellows Halls "Sustainability Tour" brochure Saint Anthony Hall (CDE) 2019 LEED Gold 30 Saint Anthony Hall "Sustainability Tour" brochure Hopper Science Center 2018 LEED Platinum 125 (combined EUI Wachenheim & Hopper) Hopper Science Centerr "Sustainability Tour" brochure Fort Bradshaw 2021 LEED Gold + LBC Petal certification 29/30
Fort-related upcycling project
Davis Center --
Targeting LBC petal certification
Building info on the Davis Center website and the Planning Design & Construction website Wachenheim Science Center 2023 LEED Platinum 125 (combined EUI Wachenheim & Hopper) Wachenheim Science Center "Sustainability Tour" brochure
Last updated January 2023
*EUI stands for Energy Use Intensity, the amount of energy used per square foot per year. A lower EUI signifies a more efficient use of space.
** The CDE Fellows Hall and St. Anthony’s Hall together have a target EUI of 30, a value that is low due to the residence hall’s achievement of the Zero Energy petal of the Living Building Challenge
*** The combined EUI for the North and South science buildings (Wachenheim & Hopper) is estimated at 137, with the North Science Building (Wachenheim) expected to achieve a much lower portion of the EUI because it will have departments that require offices, not necessarily energy-intensive laboratories
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 Policy. 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.