$13.1M Art Academy project wins LEED certification

After an arduous five year process, the Art Academy of Cincinnati has won LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for its $13.1 million renovation project.

LEED certification recognizes renovation and new construction for being energy efficent, environmentally friendly and healthy for its occupants.

The project converted two buildings at 1212 Jackson Street in Over-the-Rhine, built in 1906 and 1927, into 120,000 square feet of educational space, leveraging $1.8 million in historic tax credits and making it the largest capital improvement project in the school's 139-year history.

To achieve certification, the Art Academy was required to submit two binders full of letters, maps, photos and other documentation to the USGBC, which they reviewed against a 69-point checklist to calculate the final score.

Points were awarded for building features such as site selection, access to public transit, bicycle storage, water use reduction and ozone-friendly HVAC system.

To get a jump on the the renovation, in 2003 the school assembled a design-build team from the Miller-Valentine Group, and assistance was provided by LEED-accredited architecture firm Design Collective Inc., engineers from McGill Smith Punshon, and local historic preservationists and consultants.

Art Academy President Gregory Allgire Smith says that there was always a very broad commitment to sustainability among students, faculty and staff and that the project is congruent with the school's philosophy.

"It was conscious decision," he said.  "Being in this wonderfully, visually rich neighborhood was important.  This building works well from a teaching and learning point of view.  It's been very successful."

The Art Academy, which has now won a dozen awards for design, historic preservation, neighborhood economic impact and construction, is the seventh LEED-certified building in Cincinnati.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Gregory Allgire Smith, President, Art Academy of Cincinnati
Photography by Scott Beseler
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