The Ringling College of Art and Design dining hall Cunniffe Commons is the latest campus facility to earn LEED certification from the US Green Building Council. Built in 2021, the 28,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art building was recognized LEED Gold for its optimized energy performance, water efficiency, waste management, overall innovation, and other environmentally responsible factors.
Among the building’s green components are 150 rooftop solar panels providing renewable energy, and in-house coolers providing chilled water for the HVAC system. Cunniffe Commons also employs state-of-the-art ORCA waste technology, which uses bacteria to break down food waste, mimicking a whale’s stomach.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most widely accepted international system for guiding and rating environmentally beneficial building practices. Only two other campus facilities, the Larry R. Thompson Academic Center and Ann and Alfred Goldstein Hall, have earned LEED Gold. Three other Ringling College buildings—Alfred R. Goldstein Library, Richard and Barbara Basch Visual Arts Center, and Greensboro Hall—have been certified LEED Silver, and Bridge Apartments are also LEED certified.
In addition to its construction and renovation projects, Ringling College’s commitment to sustainability includes a number of ongoing programs and practices, like campus-wide recycling and the Green Ambassadors student club. The Princeton Review also named Ringling College to its 2024 Guide to Green Colleges, which recognized 522 environmentally responsible schools around the US.