The Rice Thresher


October 5, 2007 > News > Duncan to receive LEED gold status

Duncan to receive LEED gold status

Sustainability was the theme at the groundbreaking ceremony for Duncan College last Thursday. The eleventh residential college will be the first gold-certified LEED building at Rice and the only such student residential-housing in the country, President David Leebron said.

The college is named in honor of alumnus Charles Duncan (‘47) and his wife, Anne, who made a $30-million donation in support of the residential college system.

Attendees to the hour-long ceremony included Dean of Undergraduates Robin Forman, Board of Trustees Chair Jim Crownover (Hanszen’65), Student Association President Laura Kelley, Leebron, the residential college presidents and masters, the Duncans and their children.

Although he graduated from Rice before the residential college system was put in place, Duncan said he has witnessed the effectiveness of the system both as a chair of the Board of Trustees and through his son, Bill (Baker ‘81). The absence of elitism in the residential college system sets Rice apart from other institutions, Duncan said.

Leebron said the sense of community and fierce student loyalties to their residential colleges was unique.

“Just two weeks after students get here, they come to believe that they’re actually born in these places,” Leebron said. “I’m looking forward to the day when I can ask the question, not where are you living, but where are you from, and students will say Duncan College.”

Although he never lived in a residential college, Duncan believes that they are an excellent place for fostering friendships.

“My most treasured possession over four years are the lifelong friends I made at Rice,” he said. “There is no better environment for the exchanging of ideas and broadening of one’s outlook as the residential colleges.”

The college’s LEED certification is particularly fitting given the Duncans’ long-standing commitment to the environment, Forman said. Duncan was U.S. Secretary of Energy from 1979 to 1981 and former chair of the Business Coalition for Clean Air.

Some of Duncan College’s green features will include smart lights, a green roof, a classroom with sustainable materials and furnishing and air-conditioners that shut off automatically when windows are open.

Duncan said he is pleased that the college will receive gold LEED certification.

“I think the fact that it’s going to get the LEED certification is very, very desirable,” Duncan said. “It’s something that I hope all Rice buildings are going to have.”

Despite the Duncans’ requests that they receive no gifts, Leebron gave them a rendering of Duncan College, complete with trees that will be named in honor of each family member, to symbolize the Duncans’ commitment to the environment.

Kelley presented the SA’s gift to the Duncans — a photograph of cacti from the Images for Conservation Fund — and said she hopes it will hang in the new sustainable building as an example of environmental responsibility.

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