SMU’S Dallas Hall Wins LEED Gold Certification

Words: Bronzella Cleveland

Dallas Hall at SMUSMU’s Dallas Hall, the oldest building on a campus known for its distinctive Collegiate Georgian architectural style, is the first academic building on a Texas university campus and only the second 100-year-old building in the United States to achieve LEED Gold Certification for the operation and maintenance of an existing building.

“Southern Methodist University is very active in the LEED program, and we have earned LEED Gold status in the construction of many of our newest buildings,” said Philip Jabour, SMU associate vice president and university architect for the Office of Facilities Planning and Management. “This was an unusual project for us because we were able to certify a building completed in 1915 to meet sustainability standards that didn’t exist when it was new.”

It took three years to complete Dallas Hall after the laying of its cornerstone on Thanksgiving Day in 1912. The domed structure was inspired by the Roman Pantheon, and by the library Thomas Jefferson designed for the University of Virginia. When SMU opened in 1915, Dallas Hall housed the entire university, including classrooms, offices, a library, a hamburger grill, science labs, piano practice rooms, a chapel, a barber shop, a post office, and a mummy that previously had been exhibited at the State Fair of Texas.

“We are celebrating our SMU Centennial,” Jabour said, “so we are quite proud that the oldest, most iconic, and arguably best-loved building on our campus is the newest to earn LEED Gold status.”

The Beck Group served as the LEED consultant on the SMU project, providing sustainability services that led to the certification. “We are proud to ensure that this historic building continues to have a positive effect on the environment for the next 100 years,” said Norma Lehman, The Beck Group’s director of sustainability. “SMU continues to demonstrate a long-term commitment to sustainability. Through our partnership, we were able to build on sustainable initiatives already in place and advance energy and water conservation to the next level. SMU’s investment is a model for other campuses.”

These sustainable features were key to earning LEED Gold certification for Dallas Hall:

  • 33 percent reduced indoor water usage
  • 87 percent sustainable electronic purchases
  • 100 percent sustainable furniture purchases
  • 60 percent of ongoing consumable waste diverted from landfills
  • 100 percent of electronic waste diverted from landfills
  • 38 percent energy use reduction

“New, upgraded and better calibrated metering throughout the building helped provide substantial energy use reduction,” Lehman said. “You can’t improve what you don’t measure. By accurately metering the different energy uses throughout the building, you can be alerted to problems and fix them.”

Dallas Hall is the 20th SMU project to have earned LEED Gold, LEED Silver, or LEED Certified status on the combined Dallas and SMU-in-Taos campuses. In addition to Dallas Hall, the list includes 18 that earned LEED certification as new buildings and one interior renovation project.

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