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Commons Center

The Commons Center is the hub of The Commons. The building includes a main dining hall, private dining rooms for small faculty-student groups, community space for student programs and activities, an academic support center, a campus market and cafe, group study spaces, exercise space, a mail center, and offices for the Dean of the Commons and staff. See a full listing of spaces in the Building Directory.

LEED Certified Building

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), has certified that The Commons Center meets a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction. Learn more about LEED standards used in the building process.

Commons Center Summer Hours
7/25: 7am – 5pm
7/26: Closed
7/27: Closed
7/28: 7am – 5pm
7/29: 7am – 5pm
7/30: 7am – 5pm
7/31: 7am – 5pm
8/1: 7am – 5pm
8/2: Closed
8/3: Closed
*The exercise room will close 30 minutes before the building closes.


  • Site selection credit for former Hill Center; green space was once an asphalt parking lot; also reduces heat island effect and stormwater runoff
  • 65% of waste generated from the demolition of the old Hill Center was diverted from landfill by reuse or recycling
  • Many materials used during construction were selected from within a 500-mile radius of the building site – reduces environmental impact of transportation
  • Reflective roof reduces the building’s impact on local microclimate by decreasing the urban “Heat Island” effect
  • Ample parking for bikes, showers, changing rooms, carpooling-preferred parking, hybrid and electric vehicle-preferred parking to encourage use of alternative transportation
  • Native plantings reduce need for watering
  • Pervious pavement captures stormwater and allows it to seep into the ground
  • Reuse of slate/flagstone steps and brick
  • Project’s energy usage was reduced by approximately 26% due to inclusion of energy-efficient kitchen fume hoods, heat-reducing window glazing, and occupancy and daylight sensors


  • Plaques throughout Commons Center describe green features to building occupants
  • Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award in 2008 for incorporating environmental education into freshmen experience – Commons Seminars
  • Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award in 2009 for excellence in green building standards
  • Green screen, audio tour and website


  • Natural lighting as much as possible – control systems installed to determine when a sufficient amount of daylight is available inside the building; artificial lighting is turned off, saving energy
  • Recycling throughout building for cans, bottles and paper; hidden recycling for cardboard (compactor)
  • Grey water recycling for dishwashing
  • Pulper for solid waste disposal reduces post-consumer food waste volumes by 85%; pre-consumer waste produce scraps from the dining facility composted on-site behind the Commons Center
  • VBI collects used cooking oil to make into biodiesel fuel that is used in grounds equipment
  • Low-energy usage hoods
  • Hardware in dining area, no take-away disposables – builds culture among students
  • Locally-produced, organic and vegetarian meals
  • Shades; windows with low-emissivity (low-e) coated glass – reflects a high percentage of radiant energy and emits a low percentage


  • Drywall contains 5% post-consumer recycled content and 94% post-industrial content; steel used contains 95% post-consumer recycled content
  • Recycled-content carpet
  • Low or no-VOC paint
  • Cubicles have Steelcase furniture and chairs with recycled content
  • Bamboo chairs – bamboo is a renewable resource that regenerates quickly
  • Energy Star computers, monitors and vending machines
  • Occupancy sensors save approximately 10% of the energy used by a building’s lighting system; also control conditioned airflow
  • Meeting rooms have CO2 sensors to change ventilation rate if occupied
  • Natural lighting and shading
  • Multifunctional
  • Recycled old library chairs
  • Green cleaning products used in building are healthier than traditional cleaners


  • Building saves approximately 900,000 gallons of water per year by using low-flow faucets, waterfree urinals, and dual-flush toilets
  • Each waterfree urinal saves approximately 40,000 gals of water each year
  • Recycled content countertops
  • Low-energy dryers
  • Paper products used in restrooms meet the EPA’s criteria of 40% recycled content