Sustainable Buildings on Campus (Part 1)

Concordia UniversityEngaging in sustainability and responsible leaders goes beyond the classroom curriculum. It must also be engrained into the business school itself on its campus. A growing number of business schools and universities are not just putting in place strategies to ‘green’ their buildings on campus, but certifying these buildings through different national and international schemes. Although several say that this increases the upfront costs of the renovations or building projects, many also say that they recuperate much of that through lower operation costs. At the same time this creates more efficient and interesting buildings that create a sense of community beyond the campus.

There has been a significant rise in a mix of voluntary certification and mandatory requirements for both new buildings and existing constructions that are changing the way University campuses look around the globe. These standards provide guidance on creating more sustainable buildings through a wide range of topics including, but not limited to site selection, energy efficiency and sourcing, materials, construction practices, water efficiency and use, the design of the space and landscaping. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is one set of sustainable building standards based in the US. It is a voluntary certification programme that verifies use of sustainability practices in key performance areas including siding selection, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials and indoor air quality, and awards buildings certified, silver, gold or platinum.

Roosevelt University’s 32-storey skyscraper is the ninth largest university building in the world and is LEED Gold certified. Nearly 8,000 square feet of green roof on 5 floors reduces the city’s heat island effect and provides a rooftop vegetable garden. There is an advanced recycling system on every floor that automatically sorts trash and self cleans. A food pulper system uses recycled water and rescues 80% of solid food waste that is then composted and added to the soil at the campus community garden. The building has plenty of indoor bike parking, as well as easy access to showers for riders. The carpets throughout the buildings are made from 60% recycled plastic containers and even the façade of the building is built with ‘visual noise’ to protect birds from colliding with the reflective surface.

These certifications don’t only apply to new buildings but to renovated older buildings as well. Thunderbird School of Management’s home, a renovated World War II-era building that served as an air traffic control tower, has LEED Silver certification. The tower has an energy efficient roof and windows, water efficient plumbing fixtures, maximised daylight and minimised construction waste. Select furniture was made from recycled or reclaimed materials, and the ceilings were constructed with materials salvaged during the renovations.

The University of California Berkeley campus currently has fourteen LEED certified building projects and 6 more underway, representing over 10% of the total square footage of the campus. Major projects are designed to achieve Gold certification, and required at a minimum to achieve Silver. This is part of the university’s overall green building strategy, which includes a no net increase energy goal, meaning the proposed project would not result in an increase in the building’s metered energy. New building and renovation projects are required to outperform local energy codes by at least 30%. The Maximino Martinez Commons building on their campus is powered in part by 10,000 therms of solar water heating.

The University of California Santa Cruz Student Health Centre building has received Gold certification—the project was started by a student of environmental studies and economics, who graduated in 2009. The entire $17 million project was funded by students through several bond measures and an agreement to a new compulsory fee of $5.20 per quarter per student. Among the changes were waterless urinals and more efficient flush toilets, planter boxes to capture storm water, reinforced turf instead of pavement in a turnaround area for service vehicles, recycled and other green building materials, and the use of FSC certified wood.

Maharishi University of Management’s Sustainable Living Centre is a carbon neutral building, creating more energy than it uses. Rooms are designed to harness the different qualities of sunlight at different times of the day to support different types of activity. The building is completely off the grid and has a wind tower and solar voltaic arrays with a power capacity of 20kW. Some months the building generates twice as much energy as it needs, and the excess is used to power other buildings across campus. It obtained the highest LEED certification level, Platinum. The website for the building allows anyone interested to see in real time the amount of energy being used and generated by the building.

A growing number of schools are putting in place green building standards for all new buildings on campus. All new buildings at Fordham University School of Business are being designed to achieve LEED Silver rating, ensuring that all new properties are environmentally responsible. They have been exceeding this goal in some construction, achieving the LEED Gold standard where possible. Bentley University has also established a policy that all new campus construction will be built to at least LEED Silver or beyond.

Does your campus have a green building policy? Are your buildings certified by a national or international scheme? Share your stories in the comments below.

 

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