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Publication Date


Document Type


Study Type

EVS 300


Environmental Science and Policy


In the past few years, sustainable building design has emerged as an area in which technology may help ameliorate environmental problems. There are millions of buildings in the U.S., and they collectively consume a huge amount of energy and resources while excreting polluted waste. As technologies improve, “green” building is being standardized and joining the mainstream—architectural firms tout their Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design (LEED) certification to clients, while building owners proudly display the LEED placard on their newly constructed walls.

Mount Holyoke College was one of the first institutions to seize green building concepts and get on the LEED bandwagon, constructing two of the first nine buildings to achieve LEED certification. Since then, it has continued to push its green building initiative, creating its own standards and moving forward with a new dormitory to be built with “green” principles in mind.

I set out to learn about how MHC had gone about achieving these “green” building projects. Where did the initiative come from, and which parties supported it? How green is the College? How are decisions made in building projects? To answer these questions, I examined material posted on the College’s website, identified important actors, and spoke personally with them about what they, the decision-makers, thought of MHC’s progress. I hope the answers will help guide MHC in the future, and even guide other schools in their green building endeavors.


© 2006; Amelia Shenstone