The Dernogalizer

November 29, 2010

Column: Building a green campus

Congratulations to Sam Rivers for getting his Op-Ed published in the Diamondback.  Sam is a new member of the University of Maryland Student group UMD for Clean Energy, and he stepped right in by writing a column to the student newspaper about the need for the massive East Campus redevelopment project to be an ambitious green development.  Back when I was Campaign Director of the group as a senior last spring, we organized a successful event that put pressure on the university to stipulate in its RFP (request for proposal) that sustainable development was a top priority, and had to be one for any prospective developer.  Some  members of  the group met with The Cordish Companies'(the selected developer) development director and their design team last month to discuss students demands for a cutting edge green development, and listen to what the design team was planning.

UMD for Clean Energy at the Cordish Companies Headquarters

Now with the developer’s first public forum set for tomorrow, the group is looking to generate student and community support for rebuilding downtown College Park into a sustainable community that others can look to.  Below is Sam’s column discussing East Campus and this forum.

Guest column: Building a green campus

Last Monday, I attended my first UMD for Clean Energy meeting. The group’s purpose is to advocate for sustainability on and around the campus. As an environmental science and policy major, I had been wanting to check it out.

Discussion focused on East Campus, a proposed development to be built across Route 1 by the university in partnership with The Cordish Companies. To my surprise, I learned the development is not just one new dorm but an entire community spanning from Fraternity Row to Paint Branch Parkway — an area about six times the size of McKeldin Mall. This vast expanse will include student housing, restaurants and retail space. Furthermore, completing the project will require ripping out multiple existing buildings.

In 2009, this university unveiled a Climate Action Plan, a document that commits the university to carbon neutrality by 2050. East Campus will be included in the university’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory, and the East Campus buildings will last for decades. To have any hope of achieving the 2050 goal, the East Campus community must be built with sustainability in mind.

What would the university and The Cordish Companies have to do to build sustainably? To begin, East Campus should have walking and biking paths and must be connected to the rest of the campus by quick and reliable bus routes. There should be sufficient green space for rainwater to sink into the soil so that runoff does not pollute waterways.

Constructing rooftop gardens and building paths with water-permeable pavement could be important components of this more natural stormwater management system. Most importantly, buildings must be constructed with sustainable materials and be energy efficient. The university currently requires new buildings to earn a Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design Silver certification — the third highest ranking in a commonly accepted ranking system for green construction. But building to LEED Gold standards would affirm the university as a nationwide leader in sustainable development and move us one step closer to carbon neutrality.

The campus’s Climate Action Plan requires reducing waste and pushing the envelope on energy efficiency. But this will not happen without student involvement. So here’s where you come in: Tomorrow there will be a forum in Ritchie Coliseum from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., when the East Campus project will be put up for public commentary. The Coliseum is easily accessible by taking the Shuttle-UM Blue route bus or crossing Route 1 at The Dairy. The more people who  come to ask questions about this development’s environmental impact, the more seriously sustainability will factor into construction. You can also sign the petition for a greener East Campus at Maps of the proposed site, a flyer for the forum, East Campus’ history and more can be found at

Sam Rivers is a freshman environmental science and policy major. He can be reached at brivers at umd dot edu.

November 15, 2010

Green leadership: A lesson for Loh

Filed under: University of Maryland — Matt Dernoga @ 10:58 am
Tags: ,

I have a column out today in the Diamondback containing suggested sustainability initiatives for the University of Maryland’s new President Wallace Loh to undertake.  Unfortunately space limitations shortened the column substantially, below is the extended version.  The link I provided above goes to the published version.

As a member of the University of Maryland’s environmental community, I’m excited to see what steps our new President Wallace Loh will take to build on the progress made under Dan Mote.  In some ways, Loh has much to live up to.  During Mote’s tenure, the university took unprecedented steps in sustainability all the way from reducing greenhouse gas emissions to setting green building standards to increasing our recycling rate.  At the same time, many students and faculty I know felt Mote was more concerned about promoting a green image, regardless of whether that meant taking bold leadership.  Sometimes it did, but other times it meant hypocrisy.  Here are five initiatives Loh can lead on to blaze a new path for the university this decade that’s far greener than the last:

Green East Campus: The nearly billion dollar East Campus redevelopment project now being undertaken by the Cordish Company is an opportunity to revitalize downtown College Park and lead the way on green development.  Since East Campus is in its early planning stages, now is the time to make clear publicly what the university expects from Cordish.  We can set a new standard for green development that goes beyond our current LEED Silver building standard, traps 100% of storm water runoff to protect the Chesapeake Bay, promotes local business, and isn’t car centric.  Getting there is going to require leadership from Loh.

Support the Purple Line for Real: The Purple Line alignment has been an area where the university administration has butted heads with everyone else in the state!  The university has given a myriad of reasons why they favor more expensive and less efficient alignments, and none hold up under a scrutiny.  End the hypocrisy and support mass transit by supporting the Purple Line alignment that’s in competition for federal funding.

Put Solar On It: Although the university has begun to install a little solar such as on the South Campus Dining Hall, we aren’t being as aggressive with it as we should.  One possibility is to enter into a long-term purchase power agreement with a solar company.  Another suggestion is to analyze the recently purchased Washington Post Plant where the university will be relocating facilities for East Campus.  That plant has a huge roof.

Less Plastic: Although we’re doing a better job of recycling it, there’s way too much plastic being given out at this university.  Given that students can drink tap water from the university’s filter stations, there’s no reason we should have bottled water for sale on this campus.  Another problem is unnecessary plastic bags given out by cashiers in the university’s stores.  Students should have to ask for the plastic bags, and they should come with a five cent fee.

More Local and Healthy Food: There is strong support on the campus for the university to provide healthier food options to that have less of an environmental footprint.  Some possibilities for action are providing more vegetarian options, using cage-free eggs, growing some food on campus, and setting ambitious targets for increasing the percentage of food which comes from within a day’s driving distance.

Loh has enthusiastic partners all over campus working on sustainability issues.  If he can match that enthusiasm, and lead with us, we’ll all be successful.

November 6, 2010

Campus Sustainability Efforts

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 8:28 pm

Every few months I like to give some updates of green strides being made by colleges around the country.

New York U Pilots Student-Initiated Bike Share Program
New York University has kicked off the pilot phase of its bike share program. With support from the university’s Sustainability Office, a group of students designed the program with the long-term goal of lowering barriers like cost and experience for campus bicyclists. At the start of the university’s academic year, bikes will be available in several residence halls for rental by students, staff and faculty. The program will expand based on demand.

U Arizona Recreation Center Receives LEED Platinum
The University of Arizona’s Recreation Center has been awarded LEED Platinum certification. The $27.6 million, 55,000-square-foot building’s location and established programs support and encourage mass transit, walking and bicycling. Sustainable features include solar panels, preferred parking for low-emission vehicles and a water runoff site where rain is funneled to planting areas or directed to a rock pile beneath the ground.

U North Texas Dallas Opens Green Building
The University of North Texas at Dallas has opened its newest green building. The 103,000-square-foot building was designed to meet LEED Gold standards. Sustainable features include a 60,000-gallon rainwater cistern to irrigate the campus, passive solar design, a roof garden and 448 solar panels expected to produce 100.4 kilowatts of power.

James Madison U Implements Residence Hall Geothermal Units
James Madison University (VA) has drilled eco-friendly geothermal units as part of a sustainable renovation of Wayland Hall. The units are located under a parking lot and will contribute to the heating and cooling of the dormitory. Set for a 2011 completion, the 158-bed residence hall has been designed to meet LEED Platinum certification.

Cal Poly Pomona Installs 4,500 Solar Panels

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona is installing 4,500 solar panels on campus that are expected to go into operation in October. As part of the university’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality, the panels will generate enough electricity to power 161 homes for a year with carbon savings equivalent to planting 282 acres of pine trees.

U Pennsylvania Debuts Sustainable Horticulture Center Complex
The University of Pennsylvania’s Morris Arboretum has completed its $13 million Horticulture Center Complex. The 20,840-square-foot facility was designed and built to LEED Platinum standards with photovoltaic panels, solar hot water heaters, stormwater collection cisterns, green roofs on the equipment storage garages and a ground-source heat pump that will provide heating and air conditioning for the complex using only about one-fourth of the energy of a typical boiler and air conditioning system.

U Maryland Reduces Campus Stormwater Runoff Pollution
The University of Maryland has begun efforts to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff pollution on campus. The stormwater that runs through the university ultimately makes its way to a nearby river. To help the problem, the university has built a brick pad at the most-used bus stop with pavers far enough apart that water can trickle through instead of running off. Funded by Prince George’s County and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the university also plans to build three stormwater treatment facilities on campus as part of a larger project for nutrient and sediment removal from stormwater.

U Utah Business Students Launch Socially Responsible Venture Fund
The University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business has announced the creation of its independent student-run venture capital fund. The University Impact Fund will focus on socially responsible investing, with a particular focus on companies solving social and environmental problems. Graduate and undergraduate students from any discipline, and from several different universities, will be able to participate in the new program.

Lakehead U Campus Building Earns LEED Platinum
Lakehead University’s (ON) Orillia-based campus has earned LEED Platinum certification for its new academic building. The $43 million facility was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Knowledge Infrastructure Program and the City of Orillia. Sustainable features include a green roof, geothermal heating system and a rainwater retention pond that collects water for use in the building’s non-potable water functions like toilet flushing.

Cal State Polytechnic U Pomona Center Achieves Carbon Neutrality
With the installation of concentrated photovoltaic solar energy systems, California State Polytechnic University at Pomona’s John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies has become carbon neutral. The center will use two photovoltaic solar systems to generate 100 percent of its own clean and renewable energy, displacing 85 metric tons of greenhouses gases. The university will save $30,000 a year in reduced energy purchases.


September 20, 2010

Going for gold: The challenge of building green

My opinion column on the University of Maryland and green building is out today.   I’ve cross-posted it below, enjoy!

I want to congratulate the university and student activists for their recent major accomplishments on the sustainability front. The 2009 Campus Carbon Footprint Report of our campus emissions recently came out and found that in 2009, the carbon dioxide emissions decreased by 26,394 metric tons, a 10.5 percent reduction from 2005. This means that the university is on pace to meet its goal of a 15 percent reduction by 2012.

When former university President Dan Mote signed the President’s Climate Commitment — which committed this campus to the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 — there was legitimate skepticism of how serious the administration would be in living up to their pledge. And although there have been some hiccups, since signing the commitment, the university has renovated buildings to make them more energy efficient, installed some solar panels around the campus and reduced solid waste emissions by 70 percent.

Just the other day, The Diamondback reported that Knight Hall became the first university-owned building to be certified with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold rating, the second best LEED standard a building can obtain. Oakland Hall is likely to follow with a LEED-gold rating. What made these accomplishments even more impressive was the fact that the university’s existing green building standard — which was set in 2008 — is for all new campus buildings to be LEED-silver.

The university is setting a good precedent by going above its green building standard. Why? It’s not only the right thing to do, but it also isn’t significantly more expensive to build a legitimately low-impact structure than a lousy building. The real impact is on the energy savings the university receives for the next 50 years the building stands.

Here’s my message and challenge to the university administration. As much fun as it is to criticize you when you do something wrong, you deserve praise for getting emissions and these two buildings right. But there is still so much more to do.

The university’s Facilities Master Plan calls for the construction of 40 new buildings. With this ambitious plan there are a lot of environmental issues to resolve, many of which deal with both the preservation of green space and the environmental impact of each building. The campus power plant and our purchased electricity made up 64 percent of campus carbon dioxide emissions in 2009. A major challenge to the university continuing to make progress on its Climate Action Plan is how they add these buildings and keep emissions down.

Part of the answer means the university can’t just meet the existing campus standard of LEED-silver. New buildings will have to go above and beyond. Based off what we’ve seen from Knight Hall and Oakland Hall, why not?

The university has a committee updating its existing Facilities Master Plan, chaired by Facilities Management Director Frank Brewer. The final draft is expected to be finished by next June. If Brewer wants to keep the university on the right path, he needs to push the envelope and propose to upgrade the university’s green building standards for new construction. In an interview with the College Park Patch about the plan, Brewer stated he wanted to see the campus become carbon neutral by 2050. “It’s a pretty bold statement, but that’s the goal,” Brewer said. Let’s back up that statement with action. Be bold, and go for gold.

Matt Dernoga is a graduate student in public policy. He can be reached at dernoga at umdbk dot com.

August 29, 2010

College Sustainability News, Part 2

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 11:47 pm

There was so much progress over the summer that I needed two posts to capture all of the neat projects being undertaken on college campuses.

Berkshire CC Kicks Off Energy Monitoring and Management Program
Berkshire Community College (MA) is part of a $55 million pilot project to monitor and better manage energy use in state buildings. Funded by federal stimulus money, the Department of Energy Resources and energy management company EnerNOC, will install energy meters, computer systems and web-based monitoring programs in 33 state-owned sites, including colleges. Berkshire will monitor electricity and natural gas use with the installation of 20 meters this fall. The monitors will reveal spot energy spikes and excessive use, providing building managers with specific data to reduce energy use. The information can also be accessed by college staff and students.

U California Riverside Students Vote for Green Tax
Students at the University of California, Riverside have passed a green fee referendum. After campaigning in favor of the green tax, students will now pay $2.50 per quarter for four years. Part of the proceeds will go toward the installation of solar panels to boost renewable energy on campus. The university plans to install solar panels atop the student union structure in the next few years.

U Mississippi Uses Biodiesel for Lawnmowers
The University of Mississippi has started using 20 percent biodiesel fuel to operate all campus mowers. The biodiesel fuel is made by research technicians at the University of Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute, who say that the new practice should cut campus lawnmower pollution by as much as 50 percent. Seven industrial lawnmowers use biodiesel and the landscaping crew is also experimenting with biodiesel in small engine machinery.

Butte College Has Grid Positive Plans for May 2011
With the upcoming addition of 15,000 solar photovoltaic panels, Butte College (CA) is on track to becoming grid positive, producing more clean energy from sustainable on-site solar power than it uses. The college’s Board of Trustees recently approved the installation, which will add to its existing 10,000 solar panels for a system total of 4.5 solar megawatts. The $17 million project, funded in part by federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds, is slated for a May 2011 completion.

U Oregon Unveils New Chiller Plant
The University of Oregon has upgraded its cooling system with a new, $37 million chiller plant. Using groups of chillers and cooling towers that pump water through underground pipes to the campus’ more than 60 buildings, the plant is expected to cut energy consumption for cooling the university’s buildings in half.

U Maryland Increases Recycling With ‘Can the Can’ Initiative
Within the debut month of its Can the Can program, the recycling rate at the University of Maryland’s main administration building rose from 49 to 71 percent. The initiative, which began in June, encourages recycling by making it harder to throw things away. Facilities management replaced the garbage cans in every office with desktop bins the size of coffee cans with the words “This is all the garbage I make” printed on the side. The size of the trash cans make it inconvenient to throw out recyclable cans or bottles.

Harvard U Grad School of Education Hall Receives LEED Platinum
Harvard University’s (MA) Larsen Hall has received LEED for Commercial Interiors Platinum certification. The renovation of the Graduate School of Education’s 7,006-square-foot classroom building includes occupancy sensors to vary temperature within the space, a heat recovery unit to increase energy efficiency and low-flow plumbing fixtures. Ecological friendly materials were used during construction.

U Arizona to Receive 1.6 MW Solar Power System
The University of Arizona will feature a 1.6-megawatt solar power system as Arizona electric utility Tuscan Electric Power installs 5,508 solar panels at the university’s solar development center. The center occupies 200 acres and serves as a test bed for new technologies and solar-energy projects. The energy will be used to supply participants in a solar program, which allows rate payers to buy solar power in 150-kilowatt blocks.

U Delaware to Install 2K Panel Solar Array
The University of Delaware has announced that it will receive a 2,000-panel solar array to be installed over three buildings throughout the main campus. The 850-kilowatt solar electric system will be funded in part by the university’s 2009 senior class gift, which was earmarked for solar initiatives on campus. The installation is a joint venture of Standard Solar, Inc. and renewable energy financier Perpetual Energy Systems LLC. The university expects to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by almost 2 million pounds a year.

U Maryland Develops Bio-Filtration System
The University of Maryland has developed a bio-filtration system to reduce urban runoff pollution in the Anacostia watershed and the Chesapeake Bay. University researchers have re-engineered rain gardens to improve the removal of phosphorous, nitrogen and other prime urban pollutants from runoff. With a $600,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Prince George’s County Government, researchers will conduct a three-part demonstration project near parking lots on campus.

August 27, 2010

News on College Sustainability Efforts

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 9:26 pm

Here are some examples of progress universities have made over the summer at reducing their environmental impact.  As a recent college graduate who is going back for a Masters, I like to provide an update every so often of noteworthy actions taken by the higher education system.

California State U Bakersfield to Install 1MW Solar Energy System
California State University, Bakersfield has begun the installation of a $9.5 million solar energy project funded by SunEdison. The 1-megawatt solar photovoltaic collection system is expected to provide 25 to 30 percent of total university energy and provide shade for 500 parking spaces. The solar power energy will be sold back to the university at a cost of five percent less than it currently pays. The project is slated for a late summer 2010 completion

U Louisville Plans to Phase Out Coal
The University of Louisville (KY) has announced plans to phase out coal burning on its Belknap Campus. The university is working with the Louisville Air Pollution Control District on a pollution reduction plan that will replace a coal furnace with a new natural gas boiler. The gas boiler will increase heating capacity by 64 percent. The university is scheduled to sign an agreement to phase out coal by the end of 2015.

U Utah Debuts Bio-Retention Garden
The University of Utah has announced the completion of a bio-retention garden. Dubbed the “Rain Garden,” the plot features drought-resistant, native plant species that pool rain water, storing it underground and re-channeling it to help alleviate the burden of the university’s current irrigation system. The garden was built with funding from the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund, which is collected from a portion of student fees.

U New Mexico Education Building Awarded LEED Platinum
The University of New Mexico’s College of Education building has achieved LEED Platinum status. More than 75 percent of construction waste for the 26,000-square-foot addition was diverted from landfills and 20 percent of the construction materials were regionally manufactured. The building features individual thermal and lighting control and a 10-kilowatt photovoltaic system.

U Portland Building Achieves LEED Platinum
The University of Portland’s (OR) Donald P. Shiley Hall has been awarded LEED Platinum certification. Green features of the engineering building include water-efficient landscaping and plumbing fixtures, occupancy sensors and operable windows. Ninety-two percent of the existing building structure was used and 92 percent of the construction waste was recycled. The building also features the use of irrigation groundwater to cool the floor, saving an estimated 8.5 percent of the total cooling energy for the building.

U Illinois at Chicago Installs Green and White Roofs
The University of Illinois at Chicago has installed green and white roofs. Funded by federal stimulus grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, the green roofs’ vegetation absorbs carbon dioxide and the heat in the summer to provide extra insulation year-round. The university is also applying white acrylic coating on several campus roofs. The lighter paneling absorbs less heat and reduces the amount of energy needed to cool the building.

Central Michigan U Starts Campus Grow Project
Central Michigan University has launched the Campus Grow Project. With a focus on organic community gardening and composting, the project offers sustainable alternatives to the industrial food system through access to healthy local food and educational gardening opportunities. Students can grow and harvest food in two organic gardens on the university’s campus, where food scraps from the university’s residential restaurants are used to create nutrient-rich soil. Plots are also available to faculty and community members.

Ball State U Planning Campus-wide Geothermal System
Ball State University (IN) is working on the first phase of an $80 million project that will heat and cool the entire campus using geothermal energy. The geothermal project entails a ground source heating system that uses the earth’s below-surface temperature of 55 degrees to act as a heat source during the cooler months, and a heat sink during the warmer months. Geothermal pumps will push the water through an underground pipe system. By utilizing geothermal ground source technology throughout its 660-acre campus, the university expects to save $2 million annually on utility bills and eliminate 80,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

U Minnesota Morris Plans To Install More Wind Turbines
The University of Minnesota, Morris has unveiled plans to install two 1.65-megawatt wind turbines near its existing turbine of the same size. The $7.4 million-project is expected to cut the university’s carbon footprint by more than 80 percent. The new turbines combined with the existing renewable energy facilities on campus are expected to generate 5 megawatts of power, enough to power the entire campus.

U Chicago Recycling Event Collects 22,680 Pounds of E-Waste
The University of Chicago (IL) has announced that 22,680 pounds of recyclable materials were collected during the university’s first electronic waste recycling event. Among the unwanted items dropped off by community members and university staff, faculty and students were TVs, radios, cell phones, DVD players, vacuum cleaners and almost 700 pounds of plastic foam. By properly recycling electronic waste, materials were diverted from the landfill and the contaminants often found in these products were prevented from leaching into the water supply.

June 21, 2010

College Sustainability Updates

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 10:53 pm

Every so often I like to post some of the recent accomplishments by universities and their students to go green in a serious and impressive fashion.  Here are some of the best from the last two months, although unfortunately I’m having trouble getting the links to work, so you’ll have to take the paragraphs at their word.

Rush U Medical Center Building Awarded LEED Gold
The Orthopedic Building at Rush University Medical Center (IL) has received LEED Gold certification. The 220,000-square-foot medical office building, which houses outpatient services for orthopedics and sports medicine, opened in November 2009 and features a green roof; permeable pavement; recycled product for concrete, steel, and ceilings; and 50 percent local construction materials. Rush is also seeking LEED certification for a new hospital building, a 14-story 841,000-square-foot in-patient building currently under construction.

Columbia U Faculty House Awarded LEED Gold
Columbia University (NY) has announced that its recently renovated Faculty House has been awarded LEED Gold certification. Some of the features of the Faculty House restoration included integrated energy-efficient and water-conserving utilities, appliances, fixtures, and insulation; installation of new HVAC system, providing clean air quality; recycled, low-emission furnishings, materials, and finishes as well as locally made materials; and restored original details, repurposed old materials, donated used equipment, and recycled construction waste. With its renovation completed, Faculty House will now focus on providing the highest quality green meetings and events.

U Vermont Approves Clean Energy Fund Projects
The University of Vermont Clean Energy Fund Committee has approved its first round of projects. The Fund assesses UVM undergraduate and graduate students a $10 fee each semester to establish new clean energy projects on and around the UVM campus, generating about $225,000 per year. This year, $174,669 was allocated for nine approved student projects; $32,000 was set aside for an annual education and outreach fellowship to support student involvement in clean energy projects, coordinate with classroom instruction, secure grant funding, and disseminate information; and $25,000 will be used for professional project management for any construction the funded projects require. $25,000 was also set aside as a contingency fund. Selected projects include a campus dashboard system; the development of an energy auditing course and a virtual carport course; the installation of solar trackers, a solar array, and a solar hot water unit; solar power and smart grid research; and evaluation of biomass potential on the Trinity campus. (more…)

April 25, 2010

News on College Sustainability Efforts

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 2:29 pm

Every so often I like to list some of the strides being made by universities across the country on sustainability issues.  Here as some highlights.

Central College Receives Kresge Grant for Green Building
Central College (UA) has met a Kresge Foundation’s challenge to raise $3.59 million for its education and psychology building, which opened in August and has received LEED Platinum certification. By reaching its fundraising goal, the foundation provided an additional $850,000 in grant money. The structure is home to Central’s new Center for Global Sustainability Education.

Central Florida U Debuts Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle
Central Florida University has partnered with Ford Motor Company and Progressive Energy to host the state’s first Ford Escape plug-in hybrid electric vehicle on its campus. The University’s Smart Solar Plug-in Research Facility includes parking spaces for four electric-powered vehicles where solar panels above the spaces can recharge vehicles. The vehicle can achieve up to 120 miles per gallon and will be tested in Florida.

Louisiana State U Students Use Community Garden
Louisiana State University students can now have their very own nine-by-five foot plot to grow vegetables for $10 a semester at the campus farm. The four-acre Hill Farm will allow students to use eco-friendly gardening practices to grow food.

U Albany to Install 49 kW Solar Panel System, Purchases RECs
The University at Albany has received more than $287,000 in federal stimulus money to fund the installation of a 49-kilowatt solar panel system on a campus building. The project is expected to save approximately $63,000 a year. The University also purchased Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and carbon offsets.  The institution purchased 800,000 kilowatt hours of wind energy with the RECs, which will help support wind farms in New York State.

Texas A&M U Students Vote for Green Fee
Texas A&M University students have voted to impose a $3 per semester student fee in order to support environmental services on campus. The fee will create the “Aggie Green Fund” and will generate $300,000 annually to carry out sustainability initiatives. This comes a year after the Texas state legislature approved a measure allowing students to implement student-driven fees.

U Illinois Urbana-Champaign Passes Student Green Fee
Students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have passed a referendum that proposed increasing the current student green fee from $5 to $14. The first fee was implemented in the spring of 2007. One of the current programs that will continue to benefit from the newly-increased fee is the student sustainable farm, which sells produce to the university’s dining halls. The farm is relatively new, celebrating its first full harvest year. The increased fee will help plant new seeds for future farm projects

Berea College Hotel Earns LEED Gold
The Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant at Berea College (KY) has received LEED Gold certification. Boone Tavern, built by Berea College in 1909 as a campus guest house, recently underwent an $11.3-million renovation during 2008-2009 to make significant upgrades to the building’s infrastructure, improve efficiency, lower operating costs, and add modern technologies and other features for improved guest service and comfort. The renovation earned points for sustainable site work, water and energy efficiency, materials and construction methods, indoor environmental quality, use of recycled and regional materials, and innovation in design processes. As a member of the Green Hotel Association, Boone Tavern’s ongoing operating practices also demonstrate a commitment to environmental responsibility.

Bakersfield College to Install Solar Field
Bakersfield College (CA) has announced plans to cover one of its parking lots with solar panels that will track the sun as it moves across the sky. The power generated by the $8.3 million installation is expected to provide about one third of the College’s energy needs. The power produced when classes are not in session will be sold back to the power grid. The system, which will provide shade for 756 parking spaces, could go live as early as the fall of 2010.

U Texas Austin, Rice U Students Approve Green Fees
Students at the University of Texas at Austin and at Rice University (TX) have passed referendums to establish green funds on campus. UT Austin students approved a $5 a semester fee which could be added to tuition bills beginning in 2011. The money raised by the fees will be used for such projects as subsidizing internships for green jobs and paying for a community garden. Students at UT passed the measure with 71 percent in favor and 29 percent opposed, with 8,917 total votes cast. One out of five dollars in the UT proposal would go toward financial aid. The $9 a semester green fee at Rice will create the Rice Endowment for Sustainable Energy Technology (RESET), which will be used for campus sustainability projects.
See alsoBlog Post on Rice U Green Fee

5 U Florida Buildings Receive LEED Certification
Five different University of Florida buildings and additions, located both on and off campus, have received LEED certifications. These structures include: the Steinbrenner Band Hall (Gold), the UF Dental Clinic in Naples (Gold), the Graham Center for Public Service at Pugh Hall (Silver), the NIMET Nanoscale Research Facility (Certification), and the IFAS Biological & Agricultural Research Facility in Fort Pierce (Certification).  UF adopted the LEED criteria for design and construction in 2001 for all major new construction and renovations projects.

Clemson U Baruch Institute Receives LEED Gold Certification
LEED Gold certification has been awarded to the Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science at Clemson University (SC). The 12,600-square-foot facility includes room for 14 faculty and staff members and large multipurpose rooms and smart classrooms that connect Clemson students statewide. Green features include censored lights, an air-conditioning system that uses an energy recovery wheel to recycle heat byproduct, natural lighting, local and natural building materials, and a storm water management system. Clemson has committed to achieve at least LEED Silver ratings for all newly constructed buildings and major renovations.

U Notre Dame Geddes Hall Receives LEED Gold
The University of Notre Dame’s Geddes Hall has received LEED Gold certification. The 65,500-square-foot home of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns and Institute for Church Life opened in August of 2009 and contains a variety of materials made from both rapidly renewable materials and pre- and post-consumer recycled content. 97 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills, including the waste from the demolition the former home of the Center for Social Concerns, previously located on the same site. The use of low-flow plumbing fixtures reduced water consumption by 45 percent and the landscape design minimizes grassed lawns while employing an irrigation system with new control technology and drip irrigation. In addition, 31 percent of the building materials were manufactured within a 500-mile radius.

U Toledo Completes 1.2 MW Solar & Wind Installation
The University of Toledo (OH) has completed a 1.2 MW solar and wind power system through an agreement with a Constellation Energy subsidiary. The project utilizes thin-film-on-glass photovoltaic solar technology that was originally developed based on research at the University of Toledo. A 132-foot wind turbine was also installed at the site.

Southern Illinois U Carbondale Green Fee Funds Campus Projects
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale has approved 17 projects for funding from its Green Fund. Projects that offered educational opportunities, student involvement, improvements to campus life and collaboration between multiple departments were more likely to receive money. The fund, generated by a green fee, gave out $151,174.50 to projects this semester.

U Kansas Enters $25M Energy Contract
The University of Kansas has entered into a $25 million contract with Overland Park energy company to help increase the campus’s energy efficiency. KU expects to save nearly $2 million per year by addressing aging heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; by reducing energy and water use; and by educating the campus about responsible stewardship of resources. Work has begun and is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2011.

George Washington U Res Hall Certified LEED Gold
The George Washington University’s (DC) newest residence hall has received LEED Gold certification. South Hall opened in September 2009 and houses 474 fourth-year students in single-bedroom apartment-style living. Design and construction of the residence hall incorporated strategies for sustainable site development, water conservation, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. South Hall offers students bike storage, fuel efficient vehicle parking, and recycling facilities on each floor of the ten-story building. Prior to occupancy, rigorous air quality testing was completed. Low VOC paints were used throughout the building to reduce odor and irritation for indoor air contaminants. Highly insulated wall systems, energy efficient windows with double pane, low-e glass, and an Energy Star white roof improves energy performance of the building by 24.5 percent over the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards for residential buildings.

Northern Arizona U Building Earns LEED Gold
The facility housing in Northern Arizona University’s Extended Campuses has been awarded LEED Gold certification. The 23,000-square-foot extension to the School of Communication houses classrooms, offices, and production studios to support NAU’s Extended Campuses programs. The building uses about 43 percent less energy than a typical building of the same size through passive ventilation, solar-preheating of outside heating air, an HVAC system called “active chilled beams,” and sophisticated lighting and environmental controls. Water use is reduced more than 60 percent through low-water use plumbing fixtures and irrigating with municipal reclaimed water. More than 30 percent of building materials have significant recycled content and were attained and manufactured locally.

Bucks County CC Completes Green Campus Building
Bucks County Community College (PA) has unveiled its expanded Upper Bucks Campus. The $15 million, 28,000-square-foot project features solar-powered hot water, geothermal heating and air conditioning, and a vegetation-covered roof to reduce storm water runoff.

March 2, 2010

New College Sustainability Efforts

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 1:26 am

Every so often I like to include updates I’ve gotten on steps taken by campuses all around the country to go green.  Here are some impressive recent ones!

U Maryland Installs Solar Trash Compactor on Campus
University of Maryland Dining Services has installed a trial solar-powered trash compactor outside a late night campus dining facility. The dining hall was notorious for having trash overflow that would not be collected until the early morning hours. The new trash compactor, which the University currently has as a free trial, can compact what eight trash cans would normally hold.

Portland State U Receives $1M for Geothermal System
Portland State University (OR) has received a $1 million grant to drill geothermal wells near a campus science building and help purchase a 1,000-ton heat pump for additional heating and cooling in the 13-building campus energy loop. Design work has begun, and well construction will start this summer. The system should be operational in 2011.

Luther College Receives Grant for Permeable Pavement Construction
Luther College (IA) has been awarded an $85,979 grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to replace the asphalt paving of an existing 24,600-square-foot parking on the Luther campus with a more environmentally beneficial permeable surface. The grant money will pay a major part of the cost of removing the current 120-foot by 205-foot asphalt parking surface, grading the base and constructing a two-section permeable concrete parking surface. The new permeable surface of the lot will allow surface water and snowmelt water to seep through the paving and into the underlying soil, which significantly reduces the rate at which the water enters the river. The permeable surface paving has a design life of 50 years and is expected to function for at least 20 years with minimal maintenance. Construction on the project will begin in summer 2010.

Yale U Kroon Hall Achieves LEED Platinum
Yale University’s (CT) Kroon Hall has received LEED Platinum certification. The new home of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies was designed to use 81 percent less water and 58 percent less energy than a comparable building, and to generate 25 percent of its electricity on site from renewable sources. The east-west orientation of the building takes advantage of solar access and natural ventilation. The building is highly insulated and a green roof serves as a courtyard and covers a service lot and storage rooms below. Fresh air ventilation and free cooling cycles on air handling units reduce the need for air conditioning most of the year. Indicator lights alert occupants when conditions are suitable for opening windows. Concrete walls and exposed concrete ceilings retain heat in winter and help cool in the summer.

98 New Campuses Complete Climate Action Plans
98 new campuses have submitted Climate Action Plans (CAP) as part of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) since the last update in the AASHE Bulletin on December 21, 2009. The plans illustrate the specific steps schools are taking to reach climate neutrality. The CAP is the second major reporting requirement of the Commitment and is due within two years of signing.

U New Hampshire, State Partner to Create Green Jobs
The University of New Hampshire and the State of New Hampshire have partnered to create the Green Launching Pad, an initiative that will bring new green technologies to the marketplace, help innovative clean technology companies succeed, and support the creation of green economy jobs in New Hampshire. Through the Green Launching Pad, companies, both established and start-ups, will receive extensive financial, operational, technical, and managerial support to launch and commercialize green energy products and services. By accelerating these products and services to market, the program aims to help reduce energy use and carbon emissions while creating new jobs and economic opportunities in New Hampshire. The program, which starts immediately, will draw on the engineering, energy, environmental, and business research at UNH.

Saint John’s U Opens Solar Farm
Saint John’s University (MN) has partnered with the Order of St. Benedict and Westwood Renewables, a local company who received a $2 million solar grant from Xcel energy, to build a 1,820 panel solar farm. Located on a 14-acre farm field, the 400-kilowatt solar array is expected to produce four percent of the University’s energy needs. The solar farm is also being used as an educational tool, providing tours and other learning opportunities.

King Abdullah U Receives LEED Platinum
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Saudi Arabia) has been awarded LEED Platinum certification. Green features include 100 shared electric vehicles spread across campus; four megawatts of solar power; and a long-term habitat preservation, restoration, and protection plan.

NIIT U Builds Campus to Harvest Rainwater
NIIT University (India) has inaugurated its environmentally-conscious 100 acre, 54-building campus. The campus was built to harvest and recycle 95 percent of waste water and some buildings have been designed not to use air conditioning.

Beloit College Science Center Awarded LEED Platinum
The Beloit College (WI) Center for the Sciences has received LEED Platinum certification. The 117,000-square-foot building, which opened for classes in the fall of 2008, houses 10 academic departments and programs. The Center contains a green roof, high-recycled content in building materials and furnishings, significant reduction in energy and water use, and a storm-water cistern for watering plants in the greenhouse. Furthermore, as Chamberlin Hall—Beloit’s former science building—was deconstructed, 98 percent of those construction materials were recycled or repurposed, contributing to the new Center for the Science’s platinum rating.

Central College Academic Building Receives LEED Platinum
Central College (IA) has received LEED Platinum Certification for its newly constructed education, psychology, and communication studies building, which opened this past fall. Green features include a vegetative roof that occupants can enjoy via a rooftop patio, natural ventilation, daylight harvesting systems, and radiant floors which serve to heat and cool the facility. Rain water is captured and re-used for flushing low-flow toilets and urinals, and building materials contain high recycled content. Drought tolerant native plantings, rain gardens, and pervious pavers were incorporated into the landscape design. In addition, materials were recycled from the college’s University Apartments and several houses which were razed to make room for the project.

Iowa State U Education Addition Earns LEED Platinum
Iowa State University’s King Pavilion addition to its College of Design has been awarded LEED Platinum certification. The $6.6 million, 23,735-square-foot addition features a central, two-story “forum” surrounded by instructional studios. The structure is expected to save more than $22,000 per year in energy and reduce water usage by 20 to 30 percent over that of a similar structure. In addition, the King Pavilion contains 32 percent recycled content, including recycled steel, recycled blue-jean insulation, recycled plastics, and restroom countertops made out of 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper.

February 5, 2010

News on College Sustainability Efforts

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 7:06 pm

Ever so often I like to include updates I’ve gotten on steps taken by campuses all around the country to go green.  Here are some recent ones!

College Advancing Renewable Degree: “Morrisville State College is coming up with some innovative projects to ensure it lessens its environmental impact.  After receiving a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, the college created a Renewable Energy Training Center and with that, a new associate’s degree in renewable energy technology”

New Sustainable Foods Program: “Learning, farming and buying local combine with green living in John Wood Community College’s newly developed sustainable local foods farming program.  Developed in coordination with the University of Illinois Extension, JWCC created the certificate program to respond to a community need identified by the Illinois Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force and supported by grocers like County Market.”

students fund green projects on Vermont campus: “Green Mountain College (VT) students have chosen 15 student proposals to fund with their Student Campus Greening Fund. The money is generated through a $30 allocation per student from the annual activity fee and allows student proposals to be funded annually. This year projects included a $10,000 software development to provide the campus with live energy monitoring.”

Rochester Institute of Technology has new LEED Platinum building:

  • 48.6 percent energy cost reduction over industry standards for heating and cooling efficiency
  • 43 percent reduction in water usage over national requirements for fixture performance
  • 35 percent of the building’s electricity is supplied from renewable sources, including on-site solar photovoltaic panels
  • 33 percent recycled content of materials used in facility’s operation

Sweet Briar College Students Build Biodiesel Processing Plant: “Dining services is donating the approximately 50 gallons of spent cooking oil that it generates each month. According to the engineering team, about 95 percent of that will become biodiesel, a yield of about 40 gallons of fuel that will be mixed with the standard diesel used in physical plant vehicles. At current diesel prices, the College should realize a savings of $120 a month in fuel costs.”

Southwestern U to get 100% wind power: “Southwestern University (TX) has signed an agreement with the City of Georgetown that will enable the institution to meet all of its electric needs with wind power for the next 18 years. Wind-generated power will be provided by the City of Georgetown through an agreement with AEP Energy Partners, a subsidiary of American Electric Power. The electricity will come from the Southwest Mesa and South Trent Wind Farms in West Texas. These two wind farms have a total of 151 wind turbines, each of which can generate between 0.7 to 2.3 megawatts of electricity.”

Colorado State U with 2 MW Solar Plant: “Colorado State University has dedicated a two-megawatt operation that will help keep the University’s utility rates stable and affordable during the next 20 years. The solar power plant, owned and operated by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, features more than 8,000 panels that cover 15 acres of the University’s Foothills Campus. The panels rotate to track the sun’s movement. The project received a rebate to offset construction costs.”

University of Georgia approves student green fee: “At his annual State of the University address, University President Michael Adams announced he would accept the recommendation to impose a $3 “green fee” to fund an Office of Sustainability on campus.”

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