• The Prothro Center is the second building at Southwestern to earn LEED certification.

Southwestern’s Prothro Center for Lifelong Learning has been awarded Silver level certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Green Building Rating System™ administered by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Platinum is the highest level of LEED certification, followed by Gold, Silver and Certified. Southwestern was awarded “high” Silver certification by scoring 37 out of a possible 69 LEED credits for the building. A Gold rating requires between 39 and 51 credits.

The Prothro Center is Southwestern’s second building to receive LEED certification. The Wilhelmina Cullen Admission Center has Gold LEED certification.

“This is a significant achievement for us to have two LEED-certified buildings on campus,” said Bob Mathis, associate vice president for facilities and campus services. “LEED buildings are good for the environment and are also healthier buildings.”

Mathis said the Prothro Center would have received GOLD certification if it had been built at the same time as the Admission Center, but the USGBC has changed the requirements for LEED certification since then.

“They continue to set the bar higher,” he said.

The Prothro Center opened in March 2010 and consolidates many student services into one building, including the Registrar, Counseling and Health Services, Career Services, the Center for Academic Success, the Office of Intercultural Studies, the Office of Civic Engagement and Information Technology Services (ITS). It also is to home to Southwestern’s Paideia® program and to Georgetown’s Senior University program, which offers non-credit courses for residents 50 and older.  

Mathis said he was particularly proud of the fact that the Prothro Center was able to get LEED certification because the contractors had to work with nine different departments in planning the building. “It’s much easier when you only have to work with one department,” he said.  

The three-story, 40,350 square-foot building was built and furnished at a cost of $11 million. The building’s water efficiency features – including dual-flush toilets, waterless urinals and solar-powered, timed faucets – are estimated to use 41 percent less water that would otherwise be used, resulting in a savings of 33,000 gallons of drinkable water a year.

The building’s energy-saving features such as reflective roof shingles and insulation mean it will use nearly 27 percent less energy a year than a typical building of the same size.   Forty seven percent of the materials in the building were made from recycled content, including the copper shingles, the door and window frames, the carpet and the ceiling tile. Ninety percent of the construction waste was recycled for use as other products, including 304 tons of concrete, 28 tons of steel and metal, 130 tons of wood, sheetrock and cardboard, and 10 tons of brush.

The building was designed by Group Two Architecture of Austin. Other firms involved with the project included HMG & Associates Inc., mechanical engineers; Jaster-Quintanilla & Associates Inc., structural engineers; Steger and Bizzell, civil engineers; Monarch Design/Consulting, LEED consultant; Energy Engineering Associates Inc., building commissioning; and Skyline Commercial Inc., general contractor.

Mathis said LEED certification is costing less as contractors and designers become more familiar with it.

“They are finding ways to push us to a new level,” he said.