Last night, Sarah Heinz House celebrated the Gold LEED certification of its new building with food, wine, music and tours.

Stanley Pittman, the executive director, said that constructing an environmentally friendly building sends a message to the community and younger generations that Sarah Heinz House is concerned about the environment.

During a short speech, board of directors Chairperson Pam Meadowcroft said that they originally aimed for silver certification.

“We beat our goal and we are so thrilled,” Meadowcroft said.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Green Building Rating System developed by the U. S. Green Building Counsel provides a way for organizations and companies to show to what extent their buildings are environmentally friendly.

The highest LEED rating is platinum, followed by gold, silver and plain old LEED Certified.

Although SHH received notification in February about their Gold LEED status, Meadowcroft said they did not want to hold a celebration in the winter and knew that none of their students would be around in the summer.

Their after school program begins each October, and they thought this would present a good opportunity to allow community members to learn more about SHH.

Matt McKee, a high school senior and SHH volunteer, gave tours of the new building and highlighted its green features. The first thing he pointed out was the large windows in the lobby, which he said served two purposes: “One is to connect us back to the Northside, our Northside roots.”

Pittman echoed McKee’s point, saying that the windows allow the community to look in and see what SHH members are doing, and SHH members can look out into the neighborhood, which brings them both closer together.

Of course, the windows’ (both in the lobby and elsewhere) other purpose are to let light in — 75 percent of the building does not require electric lights during the day. All electric lights have motion detectors and shut off automatically if a room is unoccupied.

Another prominent green feature includes a system that collects rainwater from the roof and pipes it into a large cistern. Students use the cistern to water the crops and plants they grow in teaching gardens outside.

The building’s floors use recycled wood; recycled rubber from tires; wood from forests grown specifically for harvesting building material; and Marmoleum, a type of linoleum made from biodegradable materials.

The new building expanded the Boys and Girls Club’s membership capacity, and in 2008 Meadowcroft said they had 1100 children and youth.

“A lot of the spaces are meant to give our members more opportunities,” McKee explained in the new fitness center, which is also open to the public for a small monthly fee during non-club hours.

The gym, which is twice as large as the old gym, features coated skylights to prevent light pollution. The locker rooms use high pressure showerheads to save one-third the water a high volume showerhead uses.

McKee joined SHH as a fourth-grader and said he was shaped to a large degree by those who mentored him. “[Now] I can help other people too,” he said about his decision to volunteer.

“[Students] come here to laugh, learn and lead,” Meadowcroft said. “One tangible symbol of our commitment to the future is our LEED Gold Certification.”