Green Landscape/Civil

Sasaki Announces LEED, SITES Certifications for Colby College Athletics Center

Two-story entry lounge

Waterville, ME – Sasaki, along with Hopkins Architects, announced the Colby College Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center has received both LEED Platinum and SITES Gold certification status. Awarded by the U.S Green Building Council, Platinum status is the highest LEED certification a project can attain. SITES Gold is awarded by SITES, a comprehensive rating system designed to distinguish sustainable landscapes, measure performance, and elevate value.

The 350,000sf Colby College building, which opened in August 2020, includes a multi-use fieldhouse with a 200-meter track and tennis courts, an ice arena, an Olympic-sized pool, a competition gymnasium for basketball and volleyball, squash courts, a strength and fitness center, and multi-purpose studios, supported by locker rooms, sports medicine facilities, and offices.

Chris Sgarzi, a principal architect at Sasaki and a leader in the firm’s sports practice, said, “Colby College is a demonstrated leader in sustainability and committed to maintaining its carbon neutral status, so this project was especially focused on the health and wellness aspect of both the environment and students, faculty, and staff who utilize the facility.”

Sgarzi added that core sustainability principles related to indoor air quality, daylight and views, thermal comfort, and building performance are seamlessly integrated into the facility and site design to meet project goals related to health, wellness, and optimal performance of body and mind. Colby College is one of only four campuses in the country to achieve carbon neutrality.

Colby College’s Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center

With guidance from Thornton Tomasetti, which served as the LEED and SITES consultant and saw the certifications through to completion, the project team was not only able to meet the enhanced LEED standard and certification, but do so within budget and schedule. The overall credits included the demolition and waste reduction stream of the former athletics complex, which required an additional year of work.

The combination of solutions developed in collaboration with Arup, which include daylight harvesting, air system energy recovery wheels, and a pool heating system powered by excess waste heat, enabled energy use reduction to 47% below the code baseline. Arup’s structural designers helped the team develop the most lightweight structural solution possible. The highly optimized design lowered embodied CO2 by approximately 800 tons by reducing the structure’s steel tonnage by 20% and lowering the volume of concrete required by 5% relative to more conventional design solutions. These solutions contributed to the project earning all 33 possible energy points in the LEED Platinum criteria and were also important in the pursuit of the SITES Gold certification.

The SITES standard was added to the project as a goal and completely new standard for the college. The team and the landscape architects, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, and civil engineers, Sebago Technics, incorporated soil restoration and native wet and upland meadows to increase site biodiversity and manage stormwater through natural systems. This new landscape provides an opportunity for teaching, research, and recreation, while showcasing over 1 million sq. ft. of native plants.


The Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center is the first SITES project in Maine and New England to obtain Gold-level accreditation. In its review, SITES noted exceptional achievement – 26 of a possible 30 points – in the Site Design-Human Health and Well-being category. In addition to serving the college, the athletic venues and site related amenities feature universal accessibility and are made available to local communities for their use.

The project team also included Consigli Construction Company, main contractor; HLB, lighting designer; Councilman-Hunsaker, aquatics consultant; B32 Engineering Group, ice consultant; and Jensen Hughes, code consultant.

“The recognition means a lot to us as the certifications highlight and extend Colby’s focus on environmental sustainability in its academic programs as well as its expression on the physical campus,” said Minakshi M. Amundsen, assistant vice president of facilities and campus planning at Colby College.

Amundsen added that the design and construction teams took on a tough challenge for a stretch goal and entirely new standard on sustainability, particularly for a project of this size, but that they “came through with creative ideas and solutions, achieving and exceeding our goals within the original budget.”