Benson Hall and Library Archives at Vanderbilt University awarded LEED certification

Benson Hall and the Library’s Archival Storage Facility have received certification by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program of the U.S. Green Building Council.

LEED certification recognizes buildings that were designed and constructed to certain specifications of water conservation, energy efficiency and waste minimization. Benson Hall is home of the English and History departments while the Library’s Archival Storage Facility holds the university’s historical documents, drawings, books and special collections.

The recently renovated Benson Hall was awarded LEED Silver Certification for Commercial Interiors (CI). LEED-CI allows for the incorporation of sustainable interior features during renovations, as opposed to new construction, to reduce operating and maintenance costs while also reducing a facility’s environmental footprint. Vanderbilt University’s Campus Planning and Construction team worked with Gobbell Hays Partners to incorporate sustainable and environmentally friendly elements into Benson Hall including:

  • 77 percent of renovation waste was diverted from the landfill;
  • Renovation materials were sourced locally;
  • Energy-efficient lighting fixtures and water-conserving plumbing fixtures were installed;
  • Renovation materials with post-consumer recycled content and little or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were used;
  • Energy Star-rated computers, monitors, printers, copiers, fax machines, refrigerators and televisions were purchased; and
  • A green cleaning program was implemented which uses cleaning products with a low impact on the environment.

“Renovating an existing building to LEED specifications can actually be more challenging than starting with the clean slate of new construction,” said Dominique Arrieta, architect at Gobbell Hays Partners. “Old Central and Science Hall, the two structures that compose the current Benson Hall, date from 1859 and 1880 respectively, making retrofits to antiquated structures and systems difficult but especially important to reduce ongoing utility consumption.”

The Library’s Archival Storage Facility received LEED Silver Certification for New Construction. The building, located about two miles from campus on 21st Avenue North, was originally built in 1910; after acquiring the space, Vanderbilt shelled out and rebuilt the interior. The archival storage space has unique humidity and temperature parameters to ensure its contents’ preservation and durability.

Vanderbilt University’s Campus Planning and Construction worked with Gobbell Hays Partners, Self Tucker Architects, Weick Construction, MCH Engineering, NJC Engineering, International Commissioning & Engineering and Envision Advantage to seek certification. Sustainable and environmentally-friendly elements of the Library Archival Storage Facility include:

  • Reuse of 98.6 percent of the existing walls, floors and roof;
  • Diversion of 77 percent of construction waste from the landfill;
  • Bicycle storage and preferred parking for fuel-efficient/low-emitting vehicles;
  • Reflective roofing materials;
  • Storage and collection of recyclables;
  • Materials with post-consumer recycled content and little or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs); and
  • Automatic lighting controls and water-conserving plumbing fixtures.

“With the recent certifications of these two buildings, Vanderbilt University now has a total of 10 LEED-certified buildings, evidence of our commitment to incorporate sustainable practices in all of our buildings,” said Hans Mooy, Vanderbilt University architect. “Our LEED-certified projects form one of the largest collections of buildings on a single campus site in the Southeastern United States, of which we are very proud.”

LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. For more information about LEED certification, visit

Gobbell Hays Partners, Inc., founded in 1977, is an architectural, engineering and environmental consulting firm with offices in Nashville, Denver, Palm Beach Gardens, San Antonio and Houston. For more information about Gobbell Hays Partners, visit

For more information on Vanderbilt’s LEED certified buildings or other sustainability programs, please visit the SustainVU website at

Media contact: Missy Pankake, (615) 322-NEWS

Explore Story Topics