Colleges, universities providing lessons on green, sustainable building
Some experts have said that the key to advancing the green and sustainable building industries relies largely on education.
So when it comes to schooling people on the value of high-performance construction, colleges and universities have taken a leading role. But educational institutions are doing more than simply teaching students about approaches and techniques.
They’re leading by example.
“Colleges not only have the capacity to encourage their students to engage in sustainable habits and behaviors, they are also in a position to teach and demonstrate to other colleges how to implement innovative strategies to make their campuses more environmentally friendly,” said Anne Kim, a Cornell University student and former intern who wrote about climate change for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
In recent months, several campuses have introduced energy-efficient facilities and garnered recognition for sustainable practices. Among them:
- Chicago’s Malcolm X College recently received LEED gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its successful efforts to make the new building, opened in January 2016, as efficient as possible. A major feature of the structure is a green roof that covers 25 percent of the building. The roof is a functional area that serves as an academic space and is home to several indigenous species of plants from the region.
There is also an on-site stormwater system at the college, allowing water to trickle down into the system rather than hit the system immediately, which would potentially flood it and the building.
- The renovation of a 70-year-old building on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota received LEED gold. The renovation of the more than 27,000-square-foot Arthur H. Anderson Hall was done in 2016.
The historic Kasota stone building that opened in 1948 features low-emitting materials, implements green cleaning and equipment policies and has achieved energy cost savings of nearly 40 percent.
The multifaith center inside the hall includes low-flow water fixtures and daylighting strategies without sacrificing privacy. In addition, the project added new boilers, which replaced Anderson Hall’s original heating system that was previously connected to a campus-wide steam system that runs through tunnels. Outside, the site is covered with drought-resistant native plants.
- Canada’s Durham College installed a $9.1 million geothermal field. Three hundred boreholes will be drilled into the ground and connected to a piping network and heat pump plant. Once completed early in spring 2019, the geothermal field will look like a regular green space.
Another $1.45 million in funding went to upgrades of existing facilities, such as LED lighting and high-efficiency HVAC systems.
- Researchers at Canada’s Concordia University received $1.2 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to design a net-zero energy research facility on the university’s Loyola campus, which could be the first test facility of its kind in North America.
The facility is to be built by summer 2019, reports the school’s newspaper The Link. It’s expected to receive electricity from solar panels, hydrogen fuel cells and potentially a wind turbine.
The two-story building will be made of a prefabricated steel structure that can be adapted with any type of siding or roofing material and will contain up to seven adaptable test cells at any given time, officials said.
The building will also help researchers understand the needs of home occupants in arctic regions, with airflow and energy testing slated to be conducted using this facility over the following couple years.
Officials said the facility also will benefit future students who are able to use it for their research projects, not only for the potential data it can produce but also for the interdisciplinary approach.
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