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Young Harris College’s Rollins Campus Center Earns LEED Gold Certification

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Young Harris College’s Rollins Campus Center has been awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification by the Green Building Certification Institute, making it the first building on the YHC campus to achieve gold certified status and the fifth LEED-certified facility on the YHC campus.

“This achievement is certainly a bold testament to the College’s continued commitment to sustainable design and its position as an exemplary environmental steward in the community,” said Regional Vice President of Brailsford & Dunlavey Chet Roach.

Brailsford & Dunlavey served as program manager through the design and construction of the project as well as various other projects on the YHC campus including the LEED Silver-certified Enotah Hall and the LEED-certified upperclassmen housing The Village.

The Rollins Campus Center was also recently recognized during the third annual High Performance Healthy Schools Recognition Day at the Georgia State Capitol which hosted 200 guests representing 62 schools and districts, 10 institutes of higher education, and 12 community partners who are working to make a difference in Georgia.

“YHC was in very good company with a number of institutions pushing sustainability forward on many fronts,” said Joseph Atkins, a principal at Virginia-based VMDO Architects who attended the ceremony on behalf of YHC.

The $41 million, 121,000-square-foot Rollins Campus Center opened in October 2014. It houses four distinct areas: a 60,000-square-foot, multi-purpose student center; the 40,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Zell and Shirley Miller Library; 500-plus seat Grace Rollins Dining Hall; and the 350-seat, versatile Charles Suber Banquet Hall.

“I am proud to work for an institution whose leadership is dedicated to providing facilities that are not only state of the art, but also consciously driven for the purpose of minimizing the environmental footprint these facilities leave behind,” said Director of the Rollins Campus Center Chadley Gray. “I feel blessed to be able to lead the operational duties of the Rollins Campus Center. This is an amazing achievement for YHC’s ongoing efforts to be a leader in providing facilities that are guided by the LEED principles of the U.S. Green Building Council.” 

The campus center features several sustainable systems including a geothermal exchange system of 180 wells that use the earth’s naturally constant temperature to heat and cool the building. Radiant heating and cooling elements called “chilled-beams” offer quiet comfort without fan noise or additional energy use. High-performance glass allows for expansive mountain views and ample daylight to spaces. Porch cover shades the Southern sun, plus a pattern of silk-screened glass on the library’s dramatic bay window helps reduce heat gain.

Regional materials include careful use of rustic stone and wood timbers—harvested, extracted or manufactured within 500 miles of the College—with crisp and modern detailing as a forward-looking take on local and regional approaches to building and craft along the spine of the Appalachian Trail.  

“Collectively, the building’s sustainable features have resulted in an estimated 40.5 percent savings in energy use over baseline expectations for a building of this type and an estimated 33.2 percent savings in indoor water use,” said Atkins.

YHC has a history of sustainable building initiatives including using early geothermal systems to heat and cool a number of its residence halls—which made adding the campus center to its geothermal portfolio a welcome choice. 

Additionally, YHC employs green cleaning procedures throughout campus, offers parking discounts for low-emission vehicles, and supports a robust campus recycling program.

Not only is the College supporting sustainability efforts in facilities management, but also through an increasingly diverse academic program that includes a minor in sustainability and a campus-wide focus on local Appalachian culture and ecology.

About the Green Building Certification Institute
The Green Building Certification Institute is a third-party reviewer for the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization committed to promoting national sustainability through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. USGBC developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System to provide building owners and operators with a framework of tools and performance criteria for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of high performance green buildings.

About High Performance Healthy Schools
The High Performance Healthy Schools (HPHS) program was formed in 2009 to encourage healthy learning environments for all students in the state of Georgia. These efforts were spearheaded to improve energy efficiency, indoor air quality, natural light, and to support eco literacy. These changes were driven by a desire to increase student performance, improve student health, and to work within tight budgets.

About Young Harris College
Young Harris College is a private, baccalaureate degree-granting college located in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. Founded in 1886 and historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Young Harris College educates, inspires and empowers students through the highest quality liberal arts education. The College currently has more than 1,200 students across five divisions—Education, Fine Arts, Humanities, Mathematics and Science, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. The historic campus in Young Harris, Ga., is currently undergoing major campus improvements to accommodate the College’s growth. Recent LEED-certified campus improvements include the 121,000-square-foot Rollins Campus Center, new residence facilities, and a 57,000-square-foot recreation and fitness center. In 2014, the College was granted active membership in NCAA Division II and is a fierce competitor in the prestigious Peach Belt Conference. YHC is among fewer than 300 colleges and universities nationwide named to the 2015-2016 list of Colleges of Distinction. For more information, visit