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Good as Gold! Curtis Institute of Music’s Lenfest Hall Achieves LEED® Certification
Publication Date
August 25th 2012

 Urban Engineers (Urban) is pleased to announce that the Curtis Institute of Music’s Lenfest Hall is officially recognized by the United States Green Building Council as LEED® Gold. Urban collaborated with design architects, Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, to address the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and acoustical requirements of the $65 million Lenfest Hall. Nestled among a row of 19th century brownstones in Center City Philadelphia, the nine-story, 107,000-SF Lenfest Hall doubled the size of the Curtis campus, and provided, for the first time in its history, a designated space to accommodate student residences and dining facilities.


Sustainable practices in building construction and operation were a priority for the owner, architect, and the engineers. Urban’s Director of Building Systems and Project Manager, Jim Bilella, PE, stated, “The original design goal was to target LEED® Certified, but as the project progressed, we recognized the opportunity to achieve a higher rating.”


Significant energy savings are achieved by using energy efficient chillers and multiple variable air volume (VAV) air handling units where all outside air is supplied through a central energy recovery ventilation unit that extracts heat and moisture from exhausted air. The system is unique because of the ability to track the location of occupants using sensors and then compensate by providing outdoor air to occupied areas. In addition, a green roof stormwater retention system and low-flow water fixtures and showers help reduce the building’s overall water use by over 40 percent.


“Designing a building like Lenfest Hall, which exceeds expectations in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability without sacrificing architectural integrity, was no easy task, but it is something that Urban strives for with every project,” said Bilella.


Other sustainable elements included the use of recycled, local, and low-emitting materials, promotion of natural daylight and views, brownfield redevelopment, reduction of light pollution, and water efficiency. The building design minimizes impact on the existing public infrastructure through a stormwater management system that eliminates storm discharge into the sewer system. Additionally, over 75% of the construction waste was diverted from landfills.


The simulation above illustrates Lenfest Hall’s unique ventilation system. Lenfest Hall’s variable air volume (VAV), air handling units (AHU) and energy recovery ventilation unit (ERVU) were designed to track the location of occupants using sensors and then adjust to provide additional outdoor air to areas with high occupancy. This helped save 30 percent in building energy consumption while providing an average of 60 percent more fresh air to the occupants than required.