Campus News

Townsend Hall garners LEED Gold certification

 Exterior of Townsend Hall.

Townsend Hall, built in 1903 as the nurses’ dormitory for the Erie County Almshouse, is now the home of UB Human Resources. Photo: Douglas Levere

By DAVID J. HILL

Published May 12, 2022

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Tonga Pham.
“We are proud to announce another transformation of an iconic building here at UB and doing so in a way that advances our climate action work and complements our Campus Master Plan. ”
Tonga Pham, associate vice president
University Facilities

The renovation of a nearly 120-year-old building on UB’s South Campus has resulted in certification from the most widely used green building rating system in the world.

UB and Rochester-based architecture firm SWBR recently completed an $8.7 million adaptive reuse renovation of Townsend Hall, which received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“We are proud to announce another transformation of an iconic building here at UB and doing so in a way that advances our climate action work and complements our Campus Master Plan,” says Tonga Pham, associate vice president for university facilities.

Townsend Hall is now home to UB Human Resources, which moved in to the building in November 2020.

“Human Resources was excited to be selected to move into Townsend and we are learning every day how best to live and work within the space,” says Mark Coldren, associate vice president for human resources. “The natural light, single-use restrooms, a lactation space for South Campus, dynamic learning spaces, and lots of flexible space with technology to facilitate hybrid work make our new home terrific.”

Designed by Buffalo architect George Metzger, Townsend Hall was built in 1903 as the nurses’ dormitory for the Erie County Almshouse. In 1931, E.B. Green was commissioned to renovate the building, now owned by UB, and it became known as the Biology Building, according to the University Archives.

The building is named for Harriet A. Townsend (1839-1916), who founded the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union of Buffalo in 1884.

UB and SWBR began renovations in 2016. Townsend now features an adaptable, functional floor plan that provides a range of comfortable workspaces, with enough flexibility for future uses without having to do further renovations.

The renovation incorporated sustainable design strategies that resulted in improved energy efficiency, while maintaining more than 80% of the existing exterior walls, floors and roof structure.

The U.S. Green Building Council bestows LEED certification based on points accumulated: Certified (40-49 points), Silver (50-59), Gold (60-79) and Platinum (80 or more). The Townsend Hall project received 62 points to earn Gold certification, becoming UB’s eighth LEED Gold building. Others include the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building and the Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC) on the Downtown Campus, Greiner Hall on the North Campus, and Hayes Hall on the South Campus.

Townsend scored high marks for community connectivity, accommodations for low-emission and fuel-efficient vehicles, and public transportation access.