Muhlenberg Fahy Commons

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Deep green Living Building Challenge Core + LEED Platinum faculty and student multi-purpose building at the campus woodland edge

Three big ideas:

LBC Core,
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 also the first Living Building Challenge Core ready building in the world. 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

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

LEED Platinum

Half hectare of carbon-sequestering meadow restoration

Rainwater harvesting for toilet flushing

Deep energy efficiency with a 73 kW rooftop photovoltaic array and a Passive House building envelope

Achieved Passive House air-tightness levels in blower door testing

High-efficiency VRF HVAC system with continuous fresh air ventilation for healthy interiors

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

Third-party diversity and inclusion assessment

So, what is LBC Core?

The Core Green Building Certification is a version of the Living Building Challenge (LBC) which focuses on ten core practices seen as the baseline for deep green building. Following the primary structure of LBC, Core imperatives are in 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 which are interested in upping their green certification game but may not be ready for the full Challenge.  

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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