Crawford House achieves LEED Gold status

April 26, 2013
Contact: Karen Eldridge, Director of Communications
865.981.8207; karen.eldridge@maryvillecollege.edu

One of the oldest buildings on Maryville College’s campus is now the most energy efficient.

Officials at the College announced today that Crawford House, its 137-year-old farmhouse that is home to the Mountain Challenge program, has been awarded LEED Gold.

The LEED rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is the foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.

The announcement was made during a reception marking the end of Mountain Challenge’s yearlong Silver Anniversary celebration.

Sharing the news with the crowd gathered on the lawn of Crawford House were Dr. Mark O’Gorman, associate professor of political science and coordinator of the College’s environmental studies program, and Dan Hurst, president and founder of Strata-G, the environmental services firm that provided assessment and consulting throughout the process.

O’Gorman praised the efforts of the Mountain Challenge staff in pursuing LEED certification.

“[They] have lived by an ethic to walk lightly on the land that is their classroom. And in doing so, through their decades of being good stewards of resources and savoring the outdoors and wilder spaces, defined an ethic of environmental sustainability that existed long before other created such terms,” the professor said. “[They] decided, a few years back, to take the leap of putting their ideals and ideas to the test – permitting an outside organization, the U.S. Green Building Council, to investigate them to see truly how green Mountain Challenge was. Crawford House was the focus.”

Hurst explained that achieving LEED points is difficult, especially for an existing building as old as Crawford House and with a limited budget, as the project had.

“The oldest building in the United States to be LEED certified as an existing building is the U.S. Treasury, and it was certified just a couple of years ago. It was built in 1869. The oldest one in Tennessee to be certified – up until now – was Ayers Hall [on the University of Tennessee campus] that was built in 1921 that got a LEED-Silver certification.”

Then, Hurst, Mountain Challenge Fellow Lindsay O’Neal ’13 and Janna McCall Nash ’93, a Strata-G project manager and LEED accredited professional, helped reveal a LEED “Gold Certified” sign in front of Crawford House. Applause and cheers followed.

O’Gorman shared other statistics that emphasized the significance of the designation: Crawford House is one of 18 buildings in the state of Tennessee to receive LEED certification as an existing building (not new construction). Of these 18, only 5 have received the LEED Gold certification. Of those 5, Crawford House is the oldest.

It is one of 17 percent of the almost 40,000 LEED projects on the USGBC to have received one of LEED’s two highest ratings, gold or platinum.

In pursuit of LEED

A pre-LEED audit by Knoxville-based Strata-G conducted in the fall of 2009 resulted in the following recommended improvements to be completed before requesting certification: installation of gas and water meters for measuring usage; installation of storm windows over existing windows; re-capping and fireplaces; re-insulating the attic and basement; and replacing the HVAC system with appropriate-size units.

Using funds awarded by the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, the Appalachian Regional Commission and Mountain Challenge, LLC, all of the suggested improvements – and more – were made. Those included: Custom low-E storm windows; new, efficient HVAC units; soy-based foam insulation in basement and attic; linoleum (linseed-based) flooring in kitchen; solar hot water system; a 12-panel solar array; front porch constructed with composite decking made from recycled materials; and edible landscaping (orchard, garden, blackberries along fence rows).

In LEED certification, 110 possible base points are distributed across five major credit categories: sustainable sites, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

According to Mountain Challenge Founder and Director Bruce Guillaume ’76, the company had adopted environmentally friendly and energy efficient behaviors well before 2009. While seeking LEED certification, however, he and the staff sought even greater efficiency and environmental stewardship.

Scoring 66 points, Crawford House qualified for LEED Gold designation, which is the second highest rating from the USGBC. (Platinum designation is the highest.)

Also impressive is the fact that Crawford House is on the National Register of Historic Places, and improvements were made to the house without endangering its status as a historic structure.

Mountain Challenge named ‘B Corp’

Also announced at the celebration was news of Mountain Challenge’s designation as a ‘B Corp’ by B Lab, a nonprofit organization based in Pennsylvania.

In making the announcement, Cole Piper ’68, Mountain Challenge’s director of development, explained that the ‘B’ stands for “benefit,” and refers to benefiting workers, the community and the environment.

“To qualify as a B Corp, a firm must have an explicit social or environmental mission, and a legally binding fiduciary responsibility to take into account the interests of workers, the community and the environment as well as its shareholders,” he read. “A company must also amend its articles of incorporation to adopt B Lab’s commitment to sustainability and treating workers well. Biannually, they must complete a B Impact Report – a lengthy questionnaire that measures social and environmental impact – meet B-Lab’s comprehensive social and environmental performance standards and make that B Impact Report public, in order to receive the certification from B Lab.”

Piper said that Mountain Challenge is one of only four companies in Tennessee to receive ‘B Corp’ certification.

Program celebrated as unique and influential

Wayne Kramer ’74, chairman of the Maryville College Board of Directors, read a resolution making April 26 “Mountain Challenge Day” on the campus.

Kramer praised the program’s successes with MC students, community members and businesses and expressed “particular appreciation to Bruce Guillaume, Class of 1976, whose tireless efforts have made Mountain Challenge a unique and influential program.”

O’Neal spoke about the influence Mountain Challenge has on students, and also the impact students have on Mountain Challenge – and Maryville College.

“Mountain Challenge kids push the limit every day – and Bruce [Guillaume] lets us,” she said. “We challenge this company to be better and to strive for more.”

Speaking at the podium, Guillaume agreed, sharing a story with the crowd about how students five years ago asked if Crawford House was a “green” building. He answered, “I don’t know,” and they said, “Go find out.”

“And so now I can tell you – I can finish the conversation – and I can tell you that, indeed, Crawford House is a green building,” Guillaume said. “But more important than that is the fact that you set that bar incredibly high, and I want you to know that I get it. And that you have incredibly high expectations of Mountain Challenge and of me, and I never want you to stop.”


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2013 semester is 1,168.