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August 25, 2020

Marisa Ellis
Whatcom Community College PIO

Whatcom Community College's Phyllis & Charles Self Learning Commons achieves LEED Gold recognition

Whatcom Community College’s new Phyllis & Charles Self Learning Commons has received a GOLD rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design (LEED). It is the first WCC building to achieve the GOLD distinction. LEED, an internationally recognized program, provides benchmarks for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings that use resources more efficiently than conventional buildings built to code. WCC worked with Schreiber Starling Whitehead Architects of Seattle and Colacurcio Brothers Construction of Blaine on the project.

The Learning Commons was designed to be a welcoming, learner-focused facility that incorporates a library, instructional technology, collaboration and study spaces, and learning opportunities to support student success. Services within the building will engage students through tutoring, multi-media resources, quiet and collaborative study spaces, and provide students the tools needed to conduct their own thoughtful research. From the beginning, the project was designed with students, the environment, and learning in mind.

Strategies such as water efficiency, energy saving lighting, efficient mechanical and electrical systems, and other tactics to reduce the generation of greenhouse gases ensure the building has a light environmental footprint. The building reduces overall water use nearly 40% by using low-flow fixtures, and project materials incorporated 13% recycled content, while over 10% were manufactured within a 500-miles of the site and 52% of wood used was certified from sustainable forests. Health and wellbeing were also a primary focus of the Learning Commons, which can be seen in how the building design maximizes daylight, incorporates new walking paths along the adjacent storm water ponds, features new covered bicycle parking, and boasts two outdoor terraces.

"What a great example for the College to have set for Whatcom County," said Phyllis Self of the recent distinction. Self and her husband Charles are long-time College supporters and the namesake of the building.

The WCC Foundation will host a webinar announcing the ways WCC is committed to education and action for sustainability on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Participants will learn how WCC and other community leaders are making sustainability in our community a priority, including how the College’s new bachelor of applied science degree in applied business management is preparing a local workforce to support sustainable business practices.

About Whatcom: Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, WA is regularly recognized as one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation by the Aspen Institute. The College, a destination for cybersecurity, healthcare and business studies, offers two bachelor of applied science degrees, transfer degrees, career and workforce preparation, online courses, and community education classes. At this time, WCC’s physical campus, including the Phyllis & Charles Self Learning Commons, remains closed in order to prioritize the health and safety of students and employees. Fall quarter classes and services will continue online. Phased re-entry planning is underway. While WCC's physical campus is closed, our commitment to student success continues.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
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