Trinity University, San Antonio | News Release


CONTACT: Susie P. Gonzalez

Nov. 9, 2010


Trinity University Residence Hall First Academic Building in San Antonio Certified as LEED Gold Campus Building


Miller Hall
Miller Residence Hall

SAN ANTONIO Miller Residence Hall, home to first-year students at Trinity University, has been renovated and updated, earning gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council in the process.


Miller is the first building at any San Antonio institution of higher education to achieve any level of LEED certification and only the fifth gold certified structure in San Antonio. Being certified at the gold level is reflective of Trinity’s deep commitment to building and curricular programs that protect and respect the environment.


The LEED program is a third-party certification that conveys a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. As signatories to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, Trinity University is a sustainability leader among institutions of higher education.  

Texas Has 10 LEED Gold Campus Buildings

Rice University Duncan College – Houston

Rice University McMurtry College – Houston

Southern Methodist University Embrey Engineering Building – University Park (Dallas)

Southwestern University Admissions Building – Georgetown

Texas A&M University Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building – College Station

Texas Christian University Scharbauer Hall – Fort Worth

Texas Christian University Sherley Hall – Fort Worth

Trinity University Miller Residence Hall – San Antonio

University of Texas Dell Pediatric Research Institute – Austin

University of Texas Hearst Student Media Building Renovation – Austin

 Source: U.S. Green Building Council

Trinity president Dennis A. Ahlburg has pledged to uphold the Climate Commitment that was initially signed in 2007 by his predecessor, former president John R. Brazil. “We are embracing ‘green’ principles as one aspect of a Trinity education and because we want to be a good community partner,” Ahlburg said. “Achieving a gold certified building reinforces our willingness to invest in our campus.”


Three other Trinity buildings have been registered with the Green Building Council’s LEED program and are awaiting certification. Those projects include two additional residence halls, Calvert and the Thomas-Lightner complex, and The Center for the Sciences and Innovation, which is under construction.


Because the three-story Miller Hall was built in 1953, many of the renovations were necessary as part of ongoing maintenance. However, Trinity opted to seek ‘green’ enhancements that included installing low-flow toilets and showerheads to save water and replacing existing lighting fixtures with energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps, among a host of improvements.   


Additional renovations – designed and implemented by the San Antonio firms of Marmon Mok Architecture and Malitz Construction Inc. at a cost of $4.1 million – included upgrades to the heating and air conditioning system, increased building insulation, and the replacement of single pane windows with double glazed units.


“The beauty of transforming an existing structure into a green building is not what it looks like on the exterior,” said John Greene, Trinity’s director of Facilities Services. “It’s a healthier and safer building that improves indoor air quality, for example.”  


Richard Reed, professor and chair of sociology and anthropology at Trinity and chair of the environmental studies program, said living in a “green” building is a key component of a Trinity education.  “There is active learning and passive learning. By living in a green building, Trinity students have the ability to see how it works,” Reed said, explaining that college students comprise a generation accustomed to using low-flow showerheads to save water and overhead lights that turn off when they leave the room. “We want to train them that green living is the way to go.”


Jane Baxter Lynn, executive director of the U.S. Green Building Council Central Texas-Balcones chapter, noted that colleges and universities across the country have aging residence halls. “The fact that Trinity chose to renovate an existing facility using green building practices speaks volumes about the University’s commitment to sustainability. As the green building movement matures, the focus will be on the greening of existing buildings, and Trinity is leading the way.”


For the work on Miller, Trinity University and Marmon Mok previously won an honorable mention in the Commercial Category of the 2010 City of San Antonio Green Building Awards.


Sample list of items that make Miller "green"

  • The use of recycled water for landscape irrigation.
  • The use of a “green cleaning” program for custodial services.
  • The use of site lighting that does not contribute to night sky lighting (it points down, not up).
  • The use of paint with low volatile organic compounds.
  • The utilization of carpet tiles made of recycled materials.
  • The removal of old carpet to be recycled as pellets, which, when combined with wood chips, are used as fuel for boilers in a paper mill.
  • Installed low-flow shower heads and toilets to conserve water use.
  • Replaced old lighting fixtures with compact fluorescent lamps to save energy.
  • Recycled all old beds to various non-profit organizations.
  • Purchased new head/foot boards from vendors certified as providers with sustainable wood harvesting practices.
  • Separated all construction waste into separate categories (metal, cardboard, wood, donation, general trash.) This eased the recycling process to minimize waste taken to the landfill.
  • Prohibited smoking with 25 feet of the building entrances, including balconies.
  • Provided natural light into each student room to minimize use of electric lights.
  • Provided occupancy sensor light controls in each student room, closet, and bathroom.
  • Provided secured, covered bicycle storage at the building to promote the use of alternative transportation.
  • Provided a preferred parking space for low emitting-fuel efficient vehicles to promote the use of such vehicles.




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