The Mason Inn becomes the first LEED-certified Hotel in Virginia and the first building at George Mason University to receive this classification. Photo By Peter Flint

The Mason Inn Conference Center and Hotel has received a LEED-Gold certification, which identifies the hotel as a highly energy-efficient and sustainable building. The Inn is the first hotel in the Commonwealth of Virginia to receive this classification and the first LEED-certified building at George Mason University.

LEED certification, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, was established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified through the Green Building Certification Institute. It is a third-party certification program. It recognizes both design and construction aspects of a development to ensure environmental sustainability.

According to Concord Eastridge’s Andrew Klamon, the developer on this project, George Mason University built the Inn with LEED certification in mind. While Mason’s original goal was to achieve Silver status, they were able to go further and get the Gold rating.

The LEED review process evaluates sustainable site selection, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environment. Extra points are given for design innovation and regional priority. A building must score more than 60 points on a scale of 110 to be awarded Gold status. Silver status is 50 points and above.

The Mason Inn is a testament to emerging building practices. Using lighter-colored materials and a reflective roof saves energy. This is part of a “thermal envelope,” which results in energy savings greater than 15 percent.

The Inn also achieved sustainability through its use of local materials. Steel and concrete used in the building were sourced within 500 miles of the site. More than 20 percent of the materials used were carried regionally, many of which were crafted by local manufacturers. In addition, the building is decorated with local, sustainable, drought-resistant plants.

Recycling was also important in building the Inn.

During construction, 75 percent of construction waste was recycled and 32.5 percent of total building materials were made from recycled materials.

Water efficient toilets and other fixtures save water usage by 30 percent. Heating and cooling is optimized with temperature and light controls in each room and outside ventilation to help control temperatures.

Green procedures inside the Inn include low DOC paint, low-energy light-bulbs and environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Additionally, staff members are educated on best environmental procedures.

Klamon said the Inn’s location on campus is part of its green appeal. By providing less parking, the Inn encourages more public transportation.

The Inn, which opened in 2010, cost $50 million and was made possible by the Virginia Public Private Education Act. According to Concord Eastridge’s press release, the Inn project won Mid-Atlantic Construction magazine’s Project of the Year award in the Multi-Family Residential/Hospitality category.

Tom Calhoun, vice president of facilities, says that sustainable building and LEED certification is, and will continue to be, an important part of Mason. According to Calhoun, the Long and Kimmy Nguyen Engineering Building has been certified Silver and the Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore dorms are under review with the expected rating to be Gold.

“All our new facilities are being designed and built to at least LEED-Silver standards,” Calhoun said.

Klamon said that the process of building the Inn was a group effort, from Mason’s support and facilities management, to companies like Balfour Beatty Construction, Gensler Architecture and Aramark, who worked together to further the goal of sustainability.