Filed under Opinion

Making campus sustainability more than just a promotional factor

 

When you walk into the Davies Center, you immediately get the feel of an open and natural space. But the more you get to know the building, the more apparent the amazing additions actually are!

More than the terraces to catch some rays or the grand piano in the second floor lounge, the fantastic sustainable measures are my favorite parts of the building.

What? You didn’t know about them? I’ll give you a quick run down

—Green roof with gardens to collect storm water run off

— Floor tiles made from recycled materials

— Local or recycle wood and stone work

—Local and organic food served by Blugold
Dining

— LED light fixtures

— Windows that keep heat in or heat out

—A ventilation system that reuses air
instead of constantly heating or cooling new air

—Automatic lighting which dims lights when necessary

— Water conserving restroom facilities

— Solar panels on the roof

— Recycling and composting availability

The list can go on and on.

The building cost $48.8 million and was paid for by student dollars, according to the university website. With this money, we were able to make some significant upgrades from the old Davies Center and this helped our image as a green university.

For the third year in a row, UW-Eau Claire was named among the top green universities by the Princeton Review. According to a university press release, some of the reasons Eau Claire was again named a green university included the Sustainability Fellowship Program, campus Trash Talks, green certified cleaning products, local and organic food and new construction meeting a      rating system comparable to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which is a third party verification of green buildings.

Now, UW-Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Oshkosh and Stevens Point were also included on this list, so let’s not get too high and mighty. But it still makes me incredibly proud to go to a university that puts sustainability as such a
high priority.

As (I hope) everyone on campus knows, we are in the process of building a new education building which is set to be in use by spring 2014. After going above and beyond, I hope the university plans on making green features in this new building, just like the Davies Center.

I am aware that in real life people don’t allocate an extra million dollars or so just out of the goodness of their heart, just because they want an Eau Claire university building to be a little bit ‘greener.’ In real life it boils down to dollars and cents and “how can we make this cheaper?”

The budget for the education building is $44.5 million, according to the university. Not a cheap little project at all!

The big difference between the two buildings  lies in the funding: students vs. state. I haven’t seen definite, concrete sustainability additions for the building but in the Program Statement and Pre-Design Study they outline ideas.

More use of natural light, reduce waste, look into the possibility of using on-site renewable energy and water-use reducing facilities are all listed as intended sustainability projects.

But there are also statements like, “The design team will investigate opportunities for incorporating rapidly renewable materials
into the project.”

They are very general and vague. Davies set a really high standard for our university. I really hope our university is taking sustainability seriously and not just using it as another addition to their homepage or detail on the walking tours.

 

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