April 15, 2020
Green roof of O'Connell Hall
The green roof of Father O'Connell Hall

As of March 31, 2020, Father O’Connell Hall has been granted LEED certification. It’s the fourth building on campus to be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council for sustainability. Maloney Hall also achieved LEED Gold certification this semester. The Crough Center was certified in 2014 and Opus Hall in 2010. 

The certification comes following O’Connell’s major renovations completed in 2014. 

“Sustainable buildings such as Father O’Connell Hall demonstrate the University’s commitment to environmental stewardship while providing a vibrant, challenging, and uplifting collegiate experience for students, faculty, and staff,” said Debra Nauta-Rodriguez, University architect and Associate Vice President for Facilities Planning and Management. 

Originally built in 1914 (with additions added in 1959 and 1962), the collegiate Gothic style building was designed by Murphy & Olmstead and offered student dining in its Great Hall, with dormitories on the upper levels. 

The recent renovations restored the grandeur and heritage of the building while incorporating modern design, materials, and technology. The centerpiece of the historical renovation is Heritage Hall, a grand room featuring wood paneling, high ceilings adorned with rosettes and other intricate moldings, and bronze chandeliers. 

The building now houses the offices of admission, alumni relations, enrollment services, advancement, and communications and marketing. 

Among the sustainable updates made were:

  • water efficiency through low-flow plumbing fixtures achieved a 30% indoor water-use reduction;
  • energy efficiency increased through daylight harvesting and motion sensors along with multi-zoned heating and cooling systems;
  • green roofs installed to absorb rainwater, provide insulation, enhance existing wildlife habitats, and reduce the heat island effect;
  • 100% of its electricity use is offset with renewable energy credits. Renewable energy credits (RECS) are tradeable, non-tangible energy commodities that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour of electricity was generated from a renewable energy source such as solar or wind.  

In addition, the restoration process included recycled materials and local sources of material and products:

  • 10% of commonly used construction materials (concrete, gypsum, steel, etc.) were made of recycled content; 
  • 95% of the existing building structure was reused; 
  • 75% of demolition waste was diverted from the landfill.

“This LEED certification is a great way to kick off Earth Month,” says Alexandra Harry, assistant director of Campus Facilities and Sustainability Initiatives.  

April 22, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, a global celebration of the planet. Catholic University has joined American University, George Washington University, Howard University, and Georgetown University to celebrate Earth Day’s 50th anniversary with 50 Actions for 50 Years. Throughout April, the universities will promote actions through social media. Follow @cuasustainability on Instagram and the hashtag #50Actions50Years to learn more. 

Looking ahead, the University anticipates LEED certifications for the new dining commons, residence hall complex, and nursing school that are to be built in the next couple of years.