By David Hasty, Environmental Sustainability Intern, Saint Xavier University
Saint Xavier is excited for its future because "going green" means "saving green." The University's new green residence halls, Rubloff Hall ($9.5 million) and O'Brien Hall ($10.8 million), will produce economic savings for years to come. The halls' state-of-the-art mechanical systems and energy efficient designs will more than compensate for front-end costs by significantly outperforming traditionally constructed buildings.
In November 2008, Saint Xavier used Rubloff Hall (right) to participate in a U.S. Green Building Council/Environmental Protection Agency–sponsored study on the economics of going "green."
The benefits of Rubloff Hall's "green" technology are apparent when its yearly gas and electricity use are compared with two of Saint Xavier's traditionally constructed residence halls, Morris Hall and McCarthy Hall. Although Rubloff Hall's energy efficient features cost $269,100, a 3.77% construction premium, these expenses will be defrayed in less than five years.
For comparison purposes, during the 2007-08 fiscal year, McCarthy Hall (33,930 sq. ft.) operated on 60,702 therms costing $34,827 and Morris Hall (42,367 sq. ft.) ran on 66,788 therms for $47,134. Rubloff Hall (37,084 sq. ft.) used far less gas then the other buildings, totaling just 18,635 therms at a cost of $21,455.
In terms of electricity, McCarthy Hall used 591,892 kWh for a total cost of $33,371. Morris Hall consumed 1,254,400 kWh equaling $66,732. Rubloff Hall used only 525,335 kWh amounting to $31,464. Heating and cooling costs per sq. ft for McCarthy, Morris, and Rubloff Halls were $1.026, $1.112, and $0.578. Electrical cost per sq. ft of McCarthy, Morris, and
Rubloff Halls were $0.983, $1.575, and $0.848.
These statistics clearly show Rubloff Hall lowers operation costs over time through its efficient natural gas and electricity use. Saint Xavier's efforts to achieve carbon neutrality not only help protect the environment, but they also are economically smart choices.
O'Brien Hall (USGBC LEED-GOLD) was completed in August 2008. Although the building was not part of the USGBC/EPA study, Saint Xavier predicts O'Brien Hall's energy use will be similar to that of Rubloff Hall. O'Brien's projected cost savings of $37,901 per year for a 36,664 sq. ft. building translates to a 30.1% decrease in operating costs. By building "green," Saint Xavier will develop its future campus by constructing new buildings, while simultaneously managing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
Saint Xavier University has become a regional leader in sustainable development through its influential efforts to utilize green practices at its Chicago and Orland Park Campuses. The University's outlook on sustainability and fulfillment of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment can best be summarized by a quote from Saint Xavier President Judith A. Dwyer, Ph.D.:
"I believe higher education must also be at the forefront of sustainable or "green" building practices. Universities are the traditional incubators for new ideas and progressive thinking, but on a more practical level, they are also cities within our cities, usually with large, energy-consuming buildings. We must make sure that all future campus construction harmonizes with the environment and that sustainability is the lens through which we examine everything we do. At Saint Xavier University, we take this responsibility very seriously. In the future, we will examine every aspect of university campuses to ensure sustainability. Universities have always been at the center of positive change. We embrace this tradition and welcome the opportunity to join the "green" movement to help protect this Earth for future generations."