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Kroon Hall Achieves LEED’s Highest Rating   

Kroon Hall has been awarded LEED platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Under the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system for new construction, Kroon Hall was awarded 59 points, seven more than required for the top rating of platinum.

“The faculty and students of our environment school are working in a setting that superbly embodies their aspirations,” said President Richard Levin.

The 58,200-square-foot Kroon Hall, which opened in January 2009, was designed Kroon Hall to use 81 percent less water and 58 percent less energy than a building of comparable size and to generate 25 percent of its electricity onsite from renewable sources. Designed by Hopkins Architects, in collaboration with Centerbrook Architects and Planners and Atelier Ten, Kroon Hall incorporates a wide range of sustainable strategies and design features reflected in its LEED rating.

Kroon Hall earned 12 out of 14 possible points in LEED’s Sustainable Sites category through environmental sensitivity to the building landscape design and the promotion of public transportation. It earned all 5 points for Water Efficiency by incorporating many innovative water-saving and water-reusing features. Stormwater is collected from the roof and courtyards, filtered through native aquatic plants and used for all nonpotable needs such as toilets and irrigation. Water demand is further reduced by low-flow plumbing and irrigation fixtures.

The building earned all 17 points in the Energy and Atmosphere category for building commissioning, which is the process of ensuring that the building is operating as intended; reducing the use of harmful refrigerants; onsite renewable energy production; building energy performance; and measurement and verification of operational performance. The rating was achieved through passive design, optimized lighting and incorporation of renewable energy sources onsite, which includes a 100-kilowatt rooftop array of photovoltaic panels.

Kroon Hall achieved 6 points out of 13 in the Materials and Resources category. Credit is given to the selection of architectural, structural and landscape materials used in the building and for recycling. Points are awarded for the percentage of materials that were purchased from within a radius of 500 miles from the building or are made of recycled materials. The project purchased 16 percent of the materials with recycled content and 34 percent from regional sources. Almost 80 percent of the timber purchased for the building is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

The maximum 15 points was awarded for Indoor Environmental Quality. Points are achieved for projects that maximize daylight and have views to the outdoors, use high-efficiency filtration for air ventilation, give occupants control of their visual and thermal environment and utilize finished products with low concentrations of volatile organic compounds.

The building achieved 4 out of 5 points for Innovation and Design. The project achieved points for its green education program, green housekeeping plan and exemplary performance for potable water savings.

In addition to achieving LEED platinum status, Kroon Hall has received the following recognition:

  • Top Ten Award, AIA/COTE (Committee on the Environment)
  • Honor Award for Design Excellence, American Institute of Architects New England
  • Design Award, American Institute of Architects Connecticut
  • Citation for Integrated Design Process, Beyond Green High-Performance Building Awards, Sustainable Buildings Industry Council
  • Tucker Design Award, Building Stone Institute
  • Wood Design Citation Award, Wood Design & Building magazine
  • Award of Merit for New Construction, Project Team Awards, Connecticut Building Congress
  • Winner, Build Connecticut Award, Associated General Contractors of Connecticut
  • Winner, Smart Environments Award, International Interior Design Association and Metropolis magazine

Amphibians as Environmental Omen Disputed

Amphibians, for years considered a leading indicator of environmental degradation, are not uniquely susceptible to pollution, according to a meta-analysis published in Ecology Letters.

After a review of over 28,000 toxicological tests, researchers from Yale, the University of South Dakota and Washington State University are challenging the prevailing view that amphibians, with their permeable skin and aquatic environment, are particularly sensitive to chemical threats and, as such, are “canaries,” or predictors of environmental decline.

“The very simple message is that for most of the classes of chemi-cal compounds we looked at, frogs range from being moderately susceptible to being bulletproof,” said David Skelly, professor of ecology and a member of the research team. “There are other kinds of environmental threats that have led to their decline, including habitat conversion, being harvested for food and the global spread of the chytrid fungus, which is mowing down these species in its path.”

The team, led by Jacob Kerby, an assistant professor of biology at the University of South Dakota, based its analysis on information gleaned from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Aquatic Toxicity Information Retrieval database, examining 1,279 species, among them segmented worms, fish and bivalves, such as clams, insects and snails. Those species were exposed in water to various concentrations of 107 chemical agents, including inorganic chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals and phenols, a class of organic chemical compound.

“What our results suggest is that all animals are susceptible to chemical stressors and that amphibians are potentially good indicators,” said Kerby. “But there isn’t any evidence that they’re a uniquely leading indicator. We tried to be comprehensive in the types of chemicals and organisms that we examined.”

The paper, “An Examination of Amphibian Sensitivity to Environmental Contaminants: Are Amphibians Poor Canaries?,” is available online through the publisher.

Yale Environment 360 Video Wins a National Magazine Award

Yale Environment 360 has won the 2010 National Magazine Award for Digital Media for best video for an original report that it produced and posted on the site about mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia.  

The video, Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy of Mountaintop Removal Mining, was one of five finalists in the video category that included videos produced by National Geographic and The New York Times style magazine. Directed by Chad Stevens and produced by Yale Environment 360 and the multimedia company MediaStorm, the 20-minute video depicts the enormous environmental and human costs of mountaintop removal mining. The practice, which involves blasting the tops off mountains to get at the coal seams below, has destroyed or severely damaged more than a million acres of Appalachian forest, buried nearly 2,000 miles of streams in mining debris, contaminated water supplies and driven some local residents from their homes.

“We are extremely proud of this award and I hope it helps shed even more light on the issue of mountaintop removal mining and its effects on the people and environment of Appalachia,” said Roger Cohn, editor of Yale Environment 360.

Yale Environment 360, an online magazine launched in June 2008, was one of just six online-only magazines to receive a nomination as a finalist for this year’s National Magazine Awards, which are regarded as the most prestigious awards in magazine publishing. This is the first year that the American Society of Magazine Editors has sponsored National Magazine Awards for digital journalism. Leveling Appalachia was the first video produced by Yale Environment 360.

In addition, Leveling Appalachia was named best documentary video in the National Press Photographers Association’s Best of Photojournalism 2010 contest. The video was honored in the category representing websites not affiliated with, or supported by, a news organization. Other winners in the Best of Photojournalism competition included The Washington Post and The Boston Globe.

Published at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale Environment 360 features reporting, commentary and analysis on global environmental issues. It has been recognized for digital and editorial excellence, winning a 2009 Online Journalism Award for Best Specialty Site Journalism.

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