Advance sustainability planning helps make a greener campus
Daylighting works in practice as an environmentally sustainable feature of new buildings that are designed to bring in extra daylight, eliminating the need for overhead lights. But, to borrow from the slogan of a T-shirt once sold on campus, "How does it work in theory?"
"It would be easy to just adapt the green building guidelines of another university, we include the same features in each building and that's that," said Ilsa Flanagan, who became the University's first sustainability director last November.
But the University prefers to foster a sustainability initiative that reflects its own particular culture of systematic research. That entails asking a few questions before deciding how to incorporate sustainability into new buildings and the renovation of existing ones. "What's the experience we want people to have in this building? What's the mission of the building's occupants?" Flanagan asks.
The William Eckhardt Research Center, which is currently in planning, will have high-performance research laboratories, offices and conference spaces. "Those all have very different needs," Flanagan said. And daylighting, it turns out, is incompatible with some scientific experiments.
This and other needs emerged from sustainability design charrettes that Facilities Services organized for the Eckhardt Research Center, the Chicago Theological Seminary, the Reva and David Logan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, and the Lab Schools renovation.
Traditional design charrettes address the big-picture components of a building's construction site, what the building will look like and how it will function. Meanwhile, the sustainability charrettes each devoted an entire day to planning potential new green features for the buildings.
An outside consultant facilitated the charrettes, helping the design team-Facilities Services and a committee of people who will work, teach or study in the buildings-think about what sustainability features they ought to incorporate. The research-focused William Eckhardt Center, for example, could include technology developed by scientists who will work in the building.
Alternatively, the Logan Arts Center will be home to a diverse mix of creative and performing arts. Charrette participants considered how they could connect their work to a sustainable building. Several mentioned that it was important for the building to conserve materials it uses for art projects, and some artists already are recycling materials to be reused in other works.
Obtaining LEED certification is part of the objective, said Flanagan, referring to certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. But more comprehensively, the goal is to determine how the University can integrate sustainability features into a building in a way that's meaningful for the people who will study, teach or work in them.
The U.S. Green Building Council sponsors LEED certifications as independent verification that a building meets the highest green-building standards and performance measures. The University already has received LEED Gold Certification for commercial interiors for the renovated 6045 S. Kenwood Ave. building. The recently completed Searle Chemistry Laboratory building renovation likely will achieve LEED Silver certification.
"We now have a number of buildings in the LEED-certification pipeline," Flanagan said, including the Laboratory Schools renovation and the new Logan Arts Center. Existing buildings also are undergoing scrutiny as part of the University's inventory of its greenhouse gas emissions.
"We're conducting our first inventory this summer," Flanagan said, with the assistance of two students and several faculty advisers. Following an intensive period of defining the inventory's scope, data collection began in July and could be complete by early fall.
The University, like many others, is using a computer program called Clean Air-Cool Planet to calculate its carbon emissions. Once the University has documented its emissions, the Sustainability Office will develop and implement a mitigation reduction strategy as part of a campus-wide sustainability plan.
It may take a year to develop that strategy, but the University isn't waiting to green its campus. A free bike share program is launching this month in collaboration with Blackstone Bicycle Works. A program of the Experimental Station, a nonprofit community organization at 6100 S. Blackstone Ave., Blackstone Bicycle Works is refurbishing 20 bicycles for the campus program.
The bike share pilot program will maintain four stations with 20 bikes on campus at the School of Social Service Administration, the Joseph Regenstein Library, the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center and 6045 S. Kenwood Ave. The bicycles will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Borrowers need to fill out a waiver and have a valid University ID to participate in the bike share program.
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