Colby’s Sustainability Efforts Multiplying Downtown

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Lockwood Hotel and Paul J. Schupf Art Center most recent examples of green building designs

Lockwood Hotel
The Lockwood Hotel on Main Street in Waterville received LEED-Silver certification from U.S. Green Building Council
By Laura MeaderPhotography by Gabe Souza
November 1, 2021

Colby’s longstanding commitment to sustainability—deeply woven into its campus operations, curriculum, and institutional culture—is also integral to its Waterville revitalization efforts, as evidenced by two recent and important downtown developments.

This fall, the Lockwood Hotel earned LEED-Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit promoting sustainability in building practices. And earlier this year, the Colby College Museum of Art received a $100,000 Frankenthaler Climate Initiative grant to implement a Passive House approach to energy conservation at the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, expected to open in early 2023. 

“Colby has, once again, demonstrated its commitment to environmental stewardship by ensuring the Lockwood Hotel and the Paul J. Schupf Arts Center were designed and constructed in a sustainable manner,” said Paul Ureneck, assistant vice president of real estate development and operations. “Being off campus and on Main Street in Waterville, these projects act as a catalyst for community-wide discussions on environmentally and socially responsible construction.”

Eighteen and counting

The LEED-Silver designation for the 48,000-square-foot Lockwood Hotel is Colby’s most recent LEED-certified building and its second downtown—the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons received LEED Silver in 2019—and continues Colby’s 16-year streak of successful LEED projects. With approximately 26 percent of the College’s total square footage LEED certified, 18 LEED buildings, and the new Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center pursuing LEED-Gold certification, Colby is a leader among its peer institutions for sustainable building practices. 

LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building was designed and built to promote human and environmental health. In the certification process, points are awarded for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. 

The four-story, 48,000-square-foot, 53-bed Lockwood Hotel was completed in 2020 and sits at the southern end of Main Street. Since the pandemic began, it has housed Colby students unable to travel abroad for their junior year. The hotel is expected to open to regular guests in 2022.

Among the hotel’s energy-efficient features are faucets and showerheads that reduce baseline water consumption by at least 20 percent, LED lights free of mercury-based elements, and water-source heat pumps to warm guest rooms. Low-emission paints, flooring, and insulation improve indoor air quality, while other materials contain high percentages of recycled content, including drywall (95 percent) and acoustic ceiling tiles (more than 60 percent). In the hotel’s parking lot, electric-vehicle charging stations support the nationwide effort to expand electric-vehicle infrastructure.

Lockwood Hotel Front & Main bar
The bar of Front & Main, the restaurant in the Lockwood Hotel. Energy-efficient LEED criteria were implemented in the restaurant as part of the overall strategy of the hotel’s green-building design. (Photo: Courtesy Lockwood Hotel)

“It’s uncommon for a new hotel to be LEED certified,” said Sustainable Design Consulting’s Rebecca Aarons-Sydnor, who consulted with Ureneck on the project. “The fact that Colby set that criterion and stuck to their guns even though it was an off-campus building says something about their commitment to sustainability,” she said. 

Another uncommon feature for a hotel, Aarons-Sydnor noted, is the building’s “rainscreen” design on its façade. A rainscreen is a type of double-wall construction with a surface that keeps out rain and an inner layer of continuous insulation—thicker than required, in this case—to prevent excessive air leakage and withstand strong winds.

“Colby set an example in building an incredibly energy-efficient structure that’s capable of handling Maine’s harsh climate,” Aarons-Sydnor emphasized. “They even applied the LEED-retail criteria to the commercial kitchen equipment in the [Front & Main] restaurant to reduce the energy load from that part of the building.”

The Green Building Council also recognized the hotel’s innovative green building education strategy. Guests and visitors can take a self-guided tour or view comprehensive signage explaining the benefits of the building’s green features.

Energy Efficiency for the Visual Arts

A block north of the Lockwood Hotel, the Paul J. Schupf Art Center is taking shape, and the Passive House design, thanks to the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative grant, is a central feature. Funded by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, the first-of-its-kind initiative supports energy efficiency and clean-energy projects for the visual arts. When complete, energy usage at the center is expected to be 74 percent below the baseline national average for a mixed-use arts building.

The Paul J. Schupf Art Center, a partnership between Colby and Waterville Creates, will draw visitors to its state-of-the-art venues for the visual and performing arts, film, and arts education while adding significantly to Colby’s expanding arts ecosystem. The center will also give the Colby Museum a presence downtown with the inclusion of the Joan Dignam Schmaltz Gallery of Art, a “front door” to the museum in the heart of Waterville. 

The Paul J. Schupf Art Center, seen here in a rendering, with its two-story illuminated pavilion will blend seamlessly with a newly reimagined Castonguay Square. Thanks to a Frankenthaler Climate Initiative grant, the center will implement a Passive House design, which will result in an approximately 74-percent reduction in average energy usage for a facility of this kind.

The Frankenthaler Climate Initiative grant allows for the unexpected blending of two of Colby’s fundamental priorities—the arts and sustainability—for the benefit of patrons and for the future of our planet.

“In opening the Paul J. Schupf Art Center downtown, an element of our sustainability strategy is to exist physically alongside and collaboratively with spaces operated by Colby’s community arts partner, Waterville Creates,” said Jacqueline Terrassa, Carolyn Muzzy Director of the Colby College Museum of Art. 

“This factor, combined with the location on Main Street, means that the center has tremendous opportunity to model, in practice and in very public ways, how colleges and art museums can tangibly partner with their communities to maximize the resources and expertise they have in order to address one of the most critical issues of our time.”

The Passive House design employs three key methods: thickened continuous insulation and cavity insulation to form a highly airtight structure; continuous air sealing throughout the building; and a high-efficiency heating system and an energy-recovery ventilation unit to provide fresh air to the building at all times. 

These systems will reduce thermal energy losses, eliminating unwanted heat gain in the summer and heat loss in winter. The comfort of visitors is maximized while requiring less operating energy, reducing costs, and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Visitors to the Paul J. Schupf Center for the Arts will stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter throughout the building, including in the Joan Dignam Schmaltz Gallery of Art, seen here in a rendering.

Colby has long led the way nationally in matters of sustainability and environmental studies, with one of the oldest academic programs in the country. Now, as the College partners with the city to make Waterville a cultural destination, that commitment to sustainability has become visible up and down Main Street.

“Times of crisis call for new models and courageous, creative, and decisive approaches,” said Terrassa. “They require the engagement of a diverse group of partners to arrive at new, more just and future-oriented solutions.”

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