COLUMBIA—Columbia College's Missouri Hall used to be dark, covered in asbestos and mold, and home to the occasional dead bird, said Shelley Simon of Simon Oswald Architecture as she gave a tour to a group of about 10 people.
A lot has changed since the hall underwent a renovation that was completed in 2006. The building has since received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification — the first building in Columbia to do so.
Simon said Simon Oswald Architecture did the renovation and that previously, parts of the building were not safe.
However, the changes from the renovation have made a big difference.
Since the project was completed, people who work in the building have told Simon that, "people were nicer to each other and more productive," Simon said.
LEED certification means that a building has met a series of criteria in six different areas that qualifies it as a "green" building.
When Columbia College wanted to renovate Missouri Hall, Simon and the architecture firm told the college that they could both do the renovation and receive LEED certification without any additional costs.
Simon said Columbia College also wanted to incorporate sustainable design into the renovation because it would appeal to the incoming generation of students.
In order to achieve this silver certification, the building needed to earn a minimum of 33 points for its design. The building was awarded points for the sustainable features that were incorporated into the design, such as water-use reduction through the use of low-flow toilets, energy-use reduction though the use of more efficient lighting and better ventilation systems.
They were also able to reuse wood floors from what used to be the residence hall rooms in order to make a paneled ceiling on the second floor.
With all the changes that were made, Missouri Hall earned a total of 34 points at the end of the certification process.
They were able to redesign the building at no additional cost by picking and choosing which areas they wanted to seek points in.
Simon said they could have sought more points on certain aspects of the project, but it would have cost contractors more money. They chose not to seek those points to save money on the project.
Caroline Leemis, who is a LEED green associate, said that green buildings are good for the environment as well as the people in them.
"Not only will it be more cost effective in the long run in energy savings, but it also provides more healthy buildings for the public in that the air quality is better," Leemis said.
Columbia College is looking to build a new science building, and Simon said it is still discussing if it will try and seek LEED certification.