Muhlenberg Fahy Commons

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Deep green Core Living Building Certified (first in the world!) + LEED Platinum faculty and student multi-purpose building at the campus woodland edge

Three big ideas:

Core Living Building Certified,
Biophilic Design,
Bird Friendly

With the first new building constructed on campus since 2006, Muhlenberg College is putting forth a built example of their deep commitment to sustainability with the Fahy Commons. In addition to achieving LEED Platinum certification, the multi-purpose 20,000 sf building is the first project in the world to achieve Core Living Building Challenge Certification, a program administered by the International Living Future Institute as a gateway to their Living Building Challenge and defining best practices in holistic sustainable design. The Fahy Commons is rooted in biophilic design – design which brings us in touch with nature both through direct and indirect experiences. To enter the building, visitors move around a natively planted rain garden and then experience sweeping views through the building towards a wooded hill descending to Lake Muhlenberg. The Fahy Commons has been recognized with the following awards:

  • AIA Pennsylvania COTE Award Of Excellence
  • Green Building United Groundbreakers winner
  • Metropolis Magazine Planet Positive Awards winner

Fast Facts

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living building logo

Core Living Building Challenge Certified (first in the world!)

LEED Platinum

Verified energy use intensity of 8.9 kBTU/sf

73 kW rooftop photovoltaic array w/ infrastructure in place for future expansion with site mounted system

Passive House building envelope that achieved Passive House air-tightness levels in blower door testing

High-efficiency VRF HVAC system with continuous 100% fresh air ventilation for comfortable and healthy interiors

Verified 70% reduction in potable water use for toilet flushing via a 10,000 gallon rainwater harvesting tank

Half hectare of carbon-sequestering meadow restoration

Bird-safe glazing designed in conjunction with Muhlenberg’s world-renowned ornithologist

Third-party diversity and inclusion assessment

So, what is Core Living Building Challenge Certification?

The Core Living Building Challenge Certification is the entry point to the Living Building Challenge (LBC) administered by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). It focuses on ten core practices seen as the baseline for deep green building. Following the primary structure of LBC, Core imperatives fall into seven divisions referred to as petals: Place, Water, Energy, Health + Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty. While LBC is known for setting the highest and most rigorous goals for green building in the industry, Core seeks to set achievable and meaningful goals for project teams interested in scaling up their green certification game towards regenerative building practices.  A full case study on Muhlenberg College’s Fahy Commons Core Living Building Certification can be found here.

For Muhlenberg, pursuing Core was an easy choice as it was perfectly aligned with their sustainability plan and offered an engaging experience for faculty, students, recruits, and the community.

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