Mercer goes green, turns historic house into sustainable building

jmink@macon.comNovember 2, 2012 

A house that was built in the 1800s is now part of an environmental trend thanks to a renovation project at Mercer University.

The Emily Parker Myers Admissions and Welcome Center, which will be the university’s first LEED-certified building, was dedicated Friday.

Sitting at the campus entrance off Montpelier Avenue, the house has bamboo floors, high-efficiency lights and heating and air conditioning, and carpet made of recycled materials.

Original hardwood still lines a section of the house, and workers recycled about 75 percent of rubble from a part of the house that was demolished. It’s all part of a process to get gold certification in the national Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

The project is still under review, but officials expect the new welcome center to soon be LEED Gold Certified, said Donald Hicks, facilities director for Mercer.

“I think the university, we’ve always tried to practice the spirit of conservation and sustainability,” Hicks said.

The $1.4 million renovation project added 3,000 square feet to the existing 2,700-square-foot building.

It includes a conference room, a parlor for receptions, interview rooms for prospective students and amenities for the admissions staff.

Stacey Stone, an enrollment associate, is one employee who will be working in the newly refurbished building.

“I think they’ve made a good start for other areas of Mercer,” she said about the LEED certification. “Hopefully it will catch on to other places.”

The building was named after Emily Myers, the former senior vice president for university advancement and external affairs and one of the longest-serving administrators in the university’s history.

“She made me a better president, and she made Mercer a better university,” said Kirby Godsey, a former university president.

Myers said she was shocked when initially informed that the building would be named for her.

“I’m still stunned. ... What I really hope is that I’ve made a difference,” she said.

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