Westchester Community College Green Initiatives

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Westchester Community College’s Gateway Center

The College’s Gateway Center, which opened in 2010, is a gold-level LEED certified building. It is the first LEED-certified building owned by Westchester County. Designed by the internationally-renowned architectural firm Ennead Architects, The Gateway Center highlights Westchester Community College’s institutional commitment to sustainable design initiatives. Click here for more information on sustainable features of the Gateway Center. Tours of the Gateway Center with a focus on the building’s LEED features are available to the college community and to the public. If interested in scheduling a tour, please contact Eileen McKee, Welcome Center Director, at (914)606-5626.

Below are various features of Westchester Community College’s Gateway Center that address the six LEED categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation in design.

  • The project site for the Gateway Center meets all LEED criteria and was carefully considered to reduce the environmental impacts of development. The building consists of two wings that embrace a green courtyard; the two wings are connected by a multi-story glass lobby that forms the gateway to the campus and provides entry to the building on two different levels. The design minimizes disruption by setting the building into its natural slope and preserving many existing trees.
  • The vegetated open space around the building reduces storm water runoff and the heat island effect while providing a natural habitat for flora and fauna.
    • Storm water from the site is directed into four bio-retention basins which capture and treat the runoff leaving the site to remove sediment and contaminates before discharging to the campus-wide storm water system. The landscape design incorporates a rain garden landscape with wetland native plants and grasses as part of the storm water collection and bio-retention system.
    • To encourage the use of public transportation, the site is located across from a campus bus shelter that is served by four bus lines.
    • In order to reduce lawn maintenance, the perimeter site area has been designed as a wildflower meadow, a low maintenance zone which needs only one mowing each year.
    • The vegetation selected for the Gateway Center is a combination of native and adaptive plant species that do not require irrigation, therefore helping to reduce water usage.
    • There is a comprehensive signage tour through the Gateway Center that point out the building’s various green features.
  • The glass in the building contains a high performance low E glaze that reduces heat gain. The glass on the south side of the building also contains a fritted glazing, which adds an extra layer of protection, further reducing heat gain.
  • The Gateway Center has been designed to provide an optimal amount of day lighting throughout the building. Most occupied spaces in the building provide daylight and views to the outside. The day lighting features, partnered with high performance mechanical systems and lighting design and controls, are are estimated to save over 30% of fossil fuel and electricity consumption annually.
  • The main structural material of the building is steel, which has a high recycled content. By using recycled materials, the project reduces the impact of extracting virgin materials and helps divert materials from landfills. Waste management during construction was able to achieve a 90% recycling rate of construction waste materials.
  • Building materials and furniture for the facility were selected based on recycled content, origin, material lifespan and maintenance, as well as site context. The Liberty Hill granite fieldstone, a major component in the exterior building cladding and featured in the south wing, was regionally sourced. Fieldstone, in addition to complementing the historic buildings on campus, provides a durable low-maintenance material that reduces life-cycle costs for the College. Using products manufactured or sourced within 500 miles of the site results in a reduction in emissions from transportation and also supports the local economy.
  • The tables and chairs in the building’s café are Greenguard certified; this certification ensures that products are low-emitting. The tables are made of 82% recycled material and are 38% recyclable at the end of their useful life.
  • The Steelcase Answer workstations and KI Strive Task Seating in the building’s Call Center both have sustainable features. The workstations have been assessed for human and environmental health and have been awarded a Silver Cradle to Cradle certification; a complete lifecycle assessment has also been done on them, evaluating their lifelong impact on the environment. The seating consists of 41% recycled material and carries Greenguard certification.
  • The Gateway Center uses low-emitting adhesives, paints, sealants, and carpets to ensure a minimum amount of toxic off-gassing that is often associated with these common building materials. By using low-emitting or zero-VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), the building reduces harmful effects on human health and Sick Building Syndrome.
  • Before the building opened, its ventilation systems were run for two weeks at full force with fresh air to assure that any residual contaminates were flushed out.
  • The air handling units are equipped with high-efficiency filtration to remove 80% to 90% of dust and pollutants being circulated through the building. During the construction process, the air ducts were sealed to protect them from dust and debris.
  • The building is equipped with a carbon dioxide monitoring system that provides the maintenance staff with feedback on the ventilation system in order to monitor air quality and ensure that enough fresh air is being supplied.
  • The polycarbonate skylight in south wing has been designed to provide an optimal amount of daylight to both the campus and terrace level corridors. By creating a double height slot, the lower level corridor has access to natural light and reduces electrical energy consumption. The polycarbonate material allows a diffuse light to enter the building, reducing both glare and heat gain.
  • The exterior of the building’s north wing is clad in a horizontal pattern of zinc panels and cantilever over a base of structurally glazed walls. Zinc has a very long lifespan for a building material and requires little maintenance.
  • The maple wood featured throughout the building is over 50% sustainably sourced and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The plywood sheathing hiding behind the exterior zinc cladding is also sustainably sourced.
  • The restrooms throughout the building use plumbing fixtures that have been designed to conserve water, saving at least 30% over conventional plumbing fixtures, or 95,000 gallons of water per year. The toilets are also equipped with dual flush options.
  • The building has a green housekeeping and pest management program – the chemicals used to maintain the facility are Green Seal certified and help to promote healthier indoor air quality by limiting volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • There is a custom-designed brise soleil, or permanent sun-shading screen, on the south-facing courtyard façade of the building’s north wing. The sun-shading screen provides undisrupted views of the campus while optimizing natural daylight, limiting glare and reducing heat gain in the seminar rooms.
  • Classrooms throughout the building have thermostats and operable windows allowing the users great control over their environments. The College has established and will maintain a low-mercury purchasing program for the Gateway Center in accordance with LEED to reduce the amount of mercury brought into the building through light bulbs.
  • The Ellipse tables that are found in many of the classrooms throughout the building are 99% recyclable at the end of their useful life.

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Gateway Community Organic Garden

The Gateway Community Organic Garden will provides 30 individual garden spaces for use by faculty, staff, students, and the children and their families who attend the Virginia Marx Children’s Center. The garden will offer a collaborative working experience where volunteer gardeners can share heritage seeds and plants as well as their knowledge of organic gardening.

Our vision for the garden’s impact to extend beyond the cultivation of plants to the growth of a community that will nurture new social networks and an active awareness of the larger issues such as biodiversity, the relationship between growing practices and the planet’s health, and the tremendous import of protecting our food sources.

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Native Plant Center


To educate people about the environmental necessity, economic value, and natural beauty of native plants in the Northeast.

Why Native Plants?

Plants native to the Northeast are those that naturally occur in the region. Having evolved over thousands of years, they are suited to the area’s climate, weather conditions, and soils, and are less susceptible to its pests and diseases. Once established, native plants often require little maintenance.

Native plants provide valuable sources of food and shelter for wildlife and help protect water quality by filtering stormwater pollutants and reducing soil erosion. They also provide a regional identity, a geographic “sense of place.”

Save Time. Save Money. Go Native.

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HVAC Initiatives

  • Physical Education, Student Center, Technology and Science Buildings:  new installation of energy efficient air conditioning/hvac systems,
  •  Technology, Science, Library, Student Center and PE Buildings:  Roof replacement with low impact membrane (Leed’s points).
  •  Children’s Center, Knollwood Building:  planned replacement of building chillers and increased BMS (building management system) controls for added for monitoring.
  •  Campus-Wide:  Oil Spill Safety Procedure in place for deliveries during “off” hours.
  • Buildings:  Fluorescent bulbs now crushed and recycled.
  •  Grounds:  Tree removal/trimming – chipped for decorative mulch.
  • New Projects:  All projects direct design firms to incorporate green initiatives and energy efficient equipment that are in compliance with LEED standards. Design firms are directed to incorporate storm water management practices that keep storm water on site and prevent them from discharging into estuaries. A Solar Power Feasibility Study is in progress, which is determining which buildings are candidates for installation of solar panels.

Campus Green Services

2013 Recycling Statistics

Pulp                                      24.060 tons

Commingled                           1.3 tons

Recycling Units are located in buildings, outside at entrances and in parking lots on Campus.  The blue units are interior containers and green, exterior.  The unit labeling has recently been revised to reflect additional acceptable commingled items as well as further explanation of pulp receivables.

Janitorial Supplies

  • 100% Recycled paper products
  • Enviro Solutions Neutral Cleaners:
  • Floor 84
  • Glass 77 NFP
  • Spray & Wipe 74
  • Neutral Disinfectant Concentrate 256
  • Cleaning stations (below) are located in the Academic Arts, Technology, Classroom and Student Center Buildings

Receiving/Supply Inventory

Recycled paper, pencils, blue books and folders.

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