Our Approach to Sustainability

Detailed view of windows in the Barbara Walters Campus Center
Detailed look at lighting in the Barbara Walters Campus Center
Detailed look at exterior materials of the Barbara Walters Campus Center
The green roof at the Barbara Walters Campus Center

Stewardship is the expression of our collective capacity to replenish and care for resources of all kinds—with purpose, tenacity, and optimism. Stewardship honors the past and works in the present for the benefit of the future. Through stewardship, we celebrate every entity’s inherent dignity and purpose, valuing people, place, and planet for what they could be, and for what they are.

The Barbara Walters Campus Center incorporates design strategies and building approaches reflective of Sarah Lawrence’s values, aspirations, campus context, and mission. The following are examples of attributes and systems that are core elements of the Center.

Connection to Land and Water

  • The orientation of the building on the project site was carefully chosen to provide opportunities to capture maximum daylight and solar heat gain, thereby reducing utilities consumption for lighting and heating. Shades are provided in areas of the building that require sensitive control of sunlight to mitigate the quantity of lighting and related solar heat gain, especially during summer months.

  • An added benefit of the building design is that the second floor sits on the higher corner of the building site, which minimized the amount of rock removal and subsequent transportation off-site during construction.

  • A portion of the kitchen and related support spaces are partially underground, thereby helping to mitigate temperature variation during all seasons.


  • Locally sourced and recycled content
    The Campus Center and its furnishings include locally sourced stone masonry and recycled content for the ceiling systems in the kitchen and restrooms, concrete and drywall, as well as the dividers in the bathrooms.

  • Low Volatile Organic Compounds (Low-VOC) and Forest Sustainability Council (FSC) Certified Wood Products
    The paint, doors, and shades used in the building are low-VOC, and the interior woodwork and flooring come from sustainable forests.

Energy Use

  • LED Lighting
    The lighting used throughout the campus center is 100% LED. Lighting energy consumption is further reduced through automated lighting controls, including photocells, vacancy and occupancy sensors, and programmable and manual dimming.

  • Roofing
    A white membrane roof covers the multipurpose rooms, providing a reflective quality to keep the roof cooler, thus reducing energy consumption attributed to air conditioning. The remainder of the roofing material that is more visible to the community is a standing-seam metal roof, which is both aesthetically pleasing and efficient at shedding water.

  • Exterior Glass
    The exterior glass is a solar control, low-emissivity (low-e) glass that reflects 66% of total solar energy while allowing 70% of the visible light to pass through. A low-e coated window reflects unwanted energy back to the sun instead of letting the heat pass through the glass. This glass has received a Cradle-to-Cradle Bronze certification, a standard that incorporates five quality categories: material health, material reutilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.

  • Heating and Cooling
    The HVAC system is powered by natural gas and comprised of two systems designed to provide maximum efficiency and control over the separate areas for the dining pavilion and the atrium/multi-purpose rooms. In addition, the Center's air handling units are high-efficiency units that are zoned for all primary spaces to aid in decreasing energy consumption while maintaining a comfortable building temperature.

  • Thermal Insulation
    All exterior walls are appropriately insulated to aid in maintaining winter interior temperature within operating limits during the cold months while assisting in retaining air conditioning during the warmer months.

  • Plumbing Fixtures
    Toilets utilize a dual flushing system and sinks feature motion sensor faucets designed to aid in water conservation. Water coolers include bottle fillers.

Food Service

  • Food service continues to support local food sourcing to minimize the need for storage within the building, and all appliances are energy-star rated.

  • In addition, food service continues to incorporate best practices for sustainable food operations, such as small batch cooking, trayless dining, and reduced packaging.

Built and Natural Environment

  • The design for the building maximizes the use of the site, creating an inviting front lawn, connecting stair, and terraces adjacent to key program spaces, extending the program into the landscape and connecting interior with exterior.

  • The roof over the kitchen area and related support spaces are a combination of a green roof that supports native plantings along with hard surfaces for terraces and circulation paths.

  • New plantings and grasses are seen throughout the site, providing natural shading and irrigation control and support.

  • A subsurface water collection system is used to return water run off back to the soil. The system is located under Andrews Lawn and accommodates 85% of the building’s roof run off as well as a portion of the run off from terraces and circulation paths.