Inside Look: Sustainable Campus Buildings: Expectations of Energy Efficiency and Other Green Facilities Features

By Williams, Lauren | University Business, September 2015 | Go to article overview

Inside Look: Sustainable Campus Buildings: Expectations of Energy Efficiency and Other Green Facilities Features


Williams, Lauren, University Business


Adding green and sustainable elements to facilities during new construction and renovations is no longer an option for colleges and universities--it's the expectation.

"Sustainability is increasingly becoming the standard for construction and master planning in higher ed," says Monika Urbanski, STARS program analyst with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Officials at individual campuses and large university systems have established green building policies and standards for minimum LEED-certification levels.

With the variety of building types on a college campus, there are several opportunities to make any space efficient. Dining facilities can incorporate energy-efficient kitchen equipment and convenient composting and recycling spots. Residence halls can have plumbing that uses less water, and features such as plants and even vegetative walls can increase indoor air quality.

Sustainably designed facilities can be nice to look at--and to live and work within. "Aesthetics and sustainability are very complementary to each other," Urbanski says. "Not only do these elements create a better quality of life for the occupants, they're often ergonomic and more comfortable."

Higher ed institutions also focus more closely on what happens after a building opens, Urbanski says.

Monitoring systems help track energy efficiency and can spot problem areas, such as inefficient windows. They also help building users to want to do their part to keep energy use down.

Green projects also present valuable learning opportunities for students, who help design energy-efficient buildings and contribute to the green certification process. Elements such as vegetative roofs, for instance, serve a dual purpose--collecting and draining stormwater, and enhancing the science curriculum.

"Colleges are uniquely positioned to engage all members of the campus community by creating partnerships and initiatives that result in a more sustainable environment," Urbanski says.

The images on these pages highlight the interior views and the impact of green campus buildings.

Green dining

West Side Dining at New York's Stony Brook University is a 40,000-squarefoot, $14.5 million building completed in July 2013. It feeds up to 400 with six dining platforms that function as minirestaurants--all with green cooking features. Most commercial kitchen hoods operate at 100 percent capacity all day, even during non-cooking periods. But Stony Brook's automated vent-hood system modulates fans based on the heat load and can result in up to 50 percent energy savings. Other features that led to the building's LEED Silver certification include, a white bitumen asphalt roof, low-e coating on the building's outer wall to decrease sun exposure, waterless urinals, the use of recycled building materials, diverted construction waste and water-efficient landscaping.

Architect: KSQ Architects (Tulsa, Okla.)

The University of Connecticut incorporated biodegradable materials such as natural paints when renovating the McMahon Dining Hall, which opened in September 2012. The project team also selected flooring products and adhesives that eliminate indoor air pollution and decompose naturally without causing contamination. Green construction materials used included steel beams made from recycled metal. Certified LEED Gold, the $7.1 million facility is 14,000 square feet, and the renovation included all new kitchen equipment.

Architect: Prellwitz Chilinski Architects (Cambridge, Mass.)

Sustainable Campus Buildings

Recycled materials

Salem College in North Carolina kept sustainability and preservation top-of-mind when designing its 15,000-squarefoot Student Center, the campus' first new building since 1982. Opened in May 2014, the $6 million LEED Silver complex was built with 40 percent regionally sourced materials, such as handmade brick and clay roof tiles. …

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