LEED Certification - Memorial Student Center

Preserving history and preparing for the future through sustainable building.

Watch a fund-raising film for the Memorial Student Center, "Tomorrow's Campus," starring Jim Elliot '49.

Preserving history

"In memory of brave sons and daughters true who served God and Country in the Armed Forces during World War II, especially those who gave to the last full measure of devotion… June 11, 1951"

President V. Raymond Edman helped dedicate the Memorial Student Center June 11, 1951, in remembrance of Wheaton’s 39 “Gold Star Sons.”

The Memorial Student Center (MSC) was the first building added to Wheaton’s facilities that was devoted entirely to student activities. In promotional materials, MSC was dubbed the campus “living room.” It offered lounge spaces with “lots of space for caroms, checkers, chess (dominoes, excuse me!), plain kibitzing, and the like.”

A post office was created, as well as space for the Stupe, student activity offices, and the Gold Star Chapel.

With a red brick façade featuring Georgian architecture and a four-column entrance, this three story building cost $236,000—less than $1 per cubic foot (240,500 cubic foot in total).

Preparing for the future

MSC remained home to the Student Union, the Stupe, the Chaplain’s office, and Student Activities until 2004, when the Todd M. Beamer Student Center opened.

In January 2008, the building reopened its doors—to again become a significant part of the daily lives of the campus community. As part of The Promise campaign, this existing building underwent a total renovation, coming out as the new home for the Business and Economics department, the Politics and International Relations department, and the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government and Public Policy.

The classroom spaces, professor offices, and historical archive resource area bring a decidedly new purpose to the building. But much of the old MSC remains, thanks in part to sustainable building practices.

More than 95% of the existing building was kept in its original state, deferring multiple tons of waste from the landfill. These efforts helped Wheaton obtain the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. By keeping much of the existing infrastructure, landscaping and building shell, the College was able to keep the historical look and meaning of MSC while helping create an environmentally responsible future for the next generations of Wheaties.

Responsible remodeling: sustainable from the start

During construction, care was taken by the construction team to prevent soil erosion, minimizing contaminates from spreading throughout the building. Most of the construction debris on site was also recycled.

To help make sure the Wheaton campus remains connected to the outdoors, an open space adjacent to the building has been set aside and the College has signed a commitment letter restricting that area from future construction.

Many of the new construction materials brought onto the site contained recycled content, including the gypsum board (40% pre-consumer content), acoustical ceiling tiles (69% pre-consumer), carpet (20-50% post-consumer), and ceramic tile (40% pre-consumer). And many of those materials were found locally. More than 20% of the materials to construct the building were manufactured within a 500 mile radius of the campus, thereby reducing the transportation requirements and NOx / CO2 produced by vehicles moving materials to the College to outfit the building.

Continuing care

To help cut back on water use, automatic infrared sensors were installed throughout the building. This will reduce water consumption by 23% over EPA requirements from the Energy Policy Act of 1992.

MSC uses the campus’s district heating plant, which gets a 23% greater than baseline, ASHRAE 90.1 standard, building energy use. The mechanical engineers installed a Trane designed modeling software to simulate the building’s energy use prior to construction.

Additionally, to help prevent future pollution, the building's HVAC&R systems do not use CFC-based refrigerants and low- and no-VOC materials and finishes were installed throughout the building including caulks, sealants, paints, carpeting adhesives, etc.

Wheaton College purchases GreenE Certificates to offset the power consumed by the Memorial Student Center. To ensure a high standard of quality for our indoor environment, Wheaton College maintains a smoke-free campus and complies with State and City smoking ordinances.

Outside the building, preferred parking is now reserved for Low Emitting and Fuel Efficient Vehicles.

Wander around MSC, and you’re sure to find plenty of recycling bins. Each bin is clearly marked with what kind of recyclables it can accept through labels and a color coded system: brown (or blue) for commingled recycling of plastics (numbers 1-7), glass and metals; blue for paper and cardboard recycling; and gray for trash. A more in-depth explanation of what can and cannot be recycled is available on the College’s intranet site, and on posters hung around campus.

Contaminants are “checked at the door” with the extensive use of walk-off mats at each entry door to the building. The use of these relatively benign products allows dirt, pesticides, and salts from permeating into the interior of the building, increasing the quality and cleanliness of the indoor air.

Lighting the space was an important part of the design process for MSC—as the architects worked to bring in as much natural light as possible, while also ensuring all work spaces would be well-lit and energy efficient. Transoms were installed in several office spaces, allowing sunlight to permeate the common areas. Multi-purpose rooms have wall-mounted and occupancy sensor controls to adjust the light levels for varied group needs. Individual workstations and offices have access to lighting controls to suit the needs of the occupants. Temperature and humidity controls are also readily available to users to create a comfortable indoor climate that is adaptable to the varying ranges of Wheaton’s Midwest location.

A large majority of the furniture in the renovated building has been refurbished and some is Greenguard certified, meaning each certified piece has been third-party certified for their low chemical emissions performance. Not only did this reduce the waste generated during construction, the use of restored furniture coupled with this certification reduces the amount of off-gassing inside the building.

The work continues

Wheaton College is creating a holistic policy on green cleaning products and/or methods. Plans are to make this building a test for the policy and are looking to expand the program to campus-wide specification in the future.

To help educate the campus community about the unique, environmentally considerate aspects of the MSC remodel, the College has mounted an educational piece in the building which incorporates the LEED plaque they received upon completion of their LEED Silver Rating.

As a follow-up, Wheaton College will survey the building occupants within the first 18 months of building occupancy to determine if the building is living up to the designed expectations of indoor air quality, controlled temperature fluctuations, and lighting levels. The use of a post occupancy evaluation (POE) will assist the College in determining if any adjustments should be made to the occupancy policy or equipment installed during construction. A POE will also help Wheaton College draw conclusions regarding the benefits of green building in regard to their employees, and students, wellbeing.

To ensure the legacy of the MSC green building process continues, Wheaton College is demonstrating the success of this project through its regular recruitment channels and through a special stop on their campus tours.