Historic Building Rehab Becomes First Us Lutheran Seminary LEED Project
The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg announced this week that the project to rehabilitate its iconic Schmucker Hall, now housing the internationally recognized Seminary Ridge Museum, is a LEED Certified project.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is based on a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and is the foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.
The rehabilitation of one of the most important Civil War structures in the nation and perhaps the most recognizable structure in Gettysburg is a joint venture of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg and its subsidiary Seminary Ridge Historic Preservation Foundation (SRHPF), and the Adams County Historical Society (ACHS) to rehabilitate and adaptively reuse the building as a state of the art museum.
This is the first LEED certified project in a Lutheran Seminary in North America, and consistent with institutional green commitments that has enabled Gettysburg Seminary to reduce its carbon footprint since it first installed geothermal heating and cooling in its chapel during a 2011 renovation project.
Architect Jennifer Line Derr, formerly with Murphy and Dittenhafer Architects, led and coordinated the LEED project. “Having led three LEED certification projects before the Schmucker Hall effort,” she said, “I'm proud of them all, but definitely most proud of what this Owner's team and the historic building have accomplished.”
The Seminary Ridge Museum achieved LEED certification for implementing practical and measurable strategies and solutions aimed at achieving high performance in sustainable site development and rehabilitation, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Among the most efficient energy features added to the building is the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system employing 40 wells 450 feet deep within the shale of Seminary Ridge. The geothermal HVAC system replaces the original coal fire place based heat and a central steam heat system utilized from 1895. Water and storm water is also conserved on site in a way designed to recharge the ground water table and materials were preserved and reused on site wherever possible.
Seminary President Michael Cooper-White commented, “Even as we have sought to preserve the rich legacy of the past here on this sacred Ridge, leaders of the Seminary and Historical Society were committed to good stewardship for the future. Creating a modern “green environment” within a 180-year-old building was no small feat.” The Seminary is affiliated with GreenFaith and with the Blessed Earth Seminary Stewardship Alliance, two organizations advocating for environmental efficiency and its connection to faith and faith communities.
The project created a state of the art museum that includes an interpretation of the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863 from the pivotal site of the most intense fighting; the Civil War hospital that occupied the building at Gettysburg for more than two months in 1863; and the civic, moral, social and religious issues that not only divided but also inspired our nation in the 19th century and the African American experience in a border county, the early integration and activism of antislavery voices, and other lived history of the time.
Project team members included representatives of the Gettysburg Seminary and ACHS, architects Murphy & Dittenhafer, construction management from the Whiting Turner Corporation, General Contractor Morgan Keller, Inc. and members of the Seminary Ridge Museum staff.
“We are grateful to the many partners,” added Cooper-White, “including both private and public funders, who helped us achieve what many thought impossible. Our goal was to offer a gift to the nation and the world, and it has been a great privilege to open wide the doors and beckon, “Come, see, learn, be inspired—and all this in an eco-friendly environment!”