Exploring Green Buildings on Chicago Campuses
by Steve Muzzy, Program Manager, Second Nature
This afternoon I headed out with a group of about 30 attendees of the 2009 ACUPCC Climate Leadership Summit for a pre-conference workshop to tour green buildings on two local campuses here in Chicago. Our group consisted of university chancellors, sustainability directors, chief financial officers, and engineering firm presidents.
First up was St. Xavier University, where they are “moving forward faster by building green!" Paul Matthews, Assistant VP for Facilities Management, and the staff at office of sustainability led us on tours of O'Brien Hall and Rubloff Hall - two LEED Gold certified residences. St. Xavier is one of eleven schools in the United States with 2 LEED Gold buildings and the only university in Chicago with two LEED Gold buildings. For Rubloff Hall, St. Xavier invested about $270,000 in energy efficient and renewable energy features - an estimated premium of about 3.7% that will yield approximately $55,000 in annual savings, and has an expected payback period of 4.9 years. St. Xavier President, Judith A. Dwyer signed the ACUPCC as a Charter Signatory, and reducing energy demand (and associated greenhouse gas emissions) through green building will be an important piece of moving toward climate neutrality.
The second tour brought us to the University of Illinois at Chicago where Jeffrey S. Lewis, Associate at Design Organization, Inc. greeted us and gave us a tour of Lincoln Hall - a classroom building under renovation aiming for LEED Silver certification. The building will take advantage of high efficiency lighting and electrical systems and day-lighting to cut down energy use and reduce emissions. The campus also has a geothermal system that provides heating and cooling for this and three other buildings. Former Chancellor Sylvia Manning signed the ACUPCC as a Charter Signatory, and UIC has kept the momentum going under the leadership of current Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares. They have submitted multiple years of GHG Inventory reports, and have a webpage dedicated to their draft climate action plan where students and other stakeholders can submit their thoughts, comments, and ideas.
We wrapped up with a round table session, that began with a panel where we heard from Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Commissioner for the City of Chicago Department of the Environment (which has developed the Chicago Climate Action Plan), Cynthia Klein-Banai, Associate Chancellor for Sustainability at UIC, Marshall Eames, Director, University Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University Chicago, and Paul Mathews from St. Xavier. Each discussed their green building and sustainability efforts and fielded questions, and much of the conversations revolved around the idea of collaborating across departments and across sectors to effectively move large, complex groups towards the common goal of eliminating net greenhouse gas emissions. The work the City of Chicago has done in developing a climate action planning process involving 200+ organizations and facilitating progress towards this goal provides an exciting model for other cities and regions.
The preconference workshop was developed by Second Nature's Advancing Green Building program, supported by the Kresge Foundation, with the goal of helping under-resourced schools construct and renovate campus buildings in ways that save money, reduce environmental and health impacts, and serve as educational tools.
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