Many Montanans have had first-hand experience in Montana State University's Romney Hall. It's been around for a century. Just recently it was renovated for 17 new classrooms and student services. It reopened last November.

Of course, since the Bozeman campus has (just a few!) engineering classes, the project became a way to add energy efficiency and turn the 100-year-old structure into a state-of-the-art energy conservation structure.

They succeeded in that goal and have been awarded a LEED Gold certification, the U.S. Green Building Council's second-highest ranking. The building has high-performance insulation, a south-facing "solar wall" that pre-heats ventilation air, 40 heat pumps that can both act as air conditioners and heaters, and a much better lighting system.

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MSU has a unique geothermal system next to Romney Hall, where 84 boreholes (700 feet deep) feed stable underground heat to a water system that warms the building and is shared to other campus structures. That reduces the MSU's carbon emissions by a million pounds per year, officials have estimated. And, there will be thousands of dollars in annual energy cost savings.

The State of Montana Architecture and Engineering Division helped manage the design and construction, with Cushing Terrell architectural and engineering plans and Swank Enterprises as the general contractor. Montana's 2019 legislature provided $25 million and private donors also contributed to the "repurposing" of Romney Hall.

Megan Sterl, engineering and utilties director, said in an MSU news release, "This LEED certification demonstrates that even a renovation of 100-year-old building can be energy-efficient and include a range of sustainability measures."

MSU's American Indian Hall was also awarded the LEED Platinum award in April (which is the highest level), and that's the tenth building on the campus to be certified by LEED.

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