First in Indiana: Rieth Village awarded prestigious Platinum LEED rating

“You have set the bar high for the rest of the state of Indiana,” remarked Mac Williams, chair of the Indiana Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) as he unveiled a glass plaque announcing Indiana’s first platinum-rated LEED building on Monday, Feb. 11.

The plaque will adorn a wall at Rieth Village, an ecological field station for undergraduate environmental study at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College, south of Wolf Lake, Ind. The Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating is the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest honor for environmentally sustainable building design. Rieth Village was the 42nd building in the country to earn this distinction for new construction; it is the only platinumcertified project in Indiana, Michigan or Ohio.

“Any way you look at it, Rieth Village is extraordinary,” said President Jim Brenneman. “I believe that Rieth Village will continue to have a lasting influence on Goshen College’s commitment to creation care and sustainability. And it will inspire many others on and off campus.”

Buildings registered with the USGBC’s LEED rating system earn points in the categories of energy, water, site, materials and indoor air quality. A platinum rating requires 52 points; Rieth Village received 55 points for distinctive features such as passive solar design, cisterns for recycling rainwater, tulip poplar siding harvested locally, solar panels and a wind generator.

President Brenneman called Rieth Village “the most tangible evidence yet that Merry Lea has become a thought leader in environmental practice, sustainability and environmental education.” For Brenneman, pursuing platinum certification at Merry Lea is a way for Goshen College to go public about its identity as an institution that sees care for creation as one of the central concerns of Christianity.

U.S. Rep. Mark Souder, R-Fort Wayne, also attended the ceremony and offered his support for the project. “It is really important to lead by example, and Merry Lea has done that,” Souder said. Souder hopes to see more green design in his district in coming years.

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