Green Building becomes the norm at college campuses

Photo credit: Towson University Sustainability site

Colleges and Universities across the country are increasing their standards for sustainability in construction. At Towson University, all new construction products since 2007 are considered environmentally stable according to the Towson University sustainability site.

This increase is due to the policies set forth by the United States Green Building Council, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainability in the construction and design of buildings. Through the USGBC, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system was created, which verifies is a building is environmentally sustainable.

Towson University, aside from its new construction, has two LEED Gold certified buildings. These buildings, West Village Commons and the SECU arena, are the most sustainable among the university’s five other LEED Silver certified buildings. Each building contains water-efficient fixtures, recycling, environmental landscaping, and green roofs that reduce carbon dioxide emitted according to the site.

Towson University isn’t the only campus pushing for environmental sustainability. At MIT, their Sloan School of Management building has the highest energy performance possible according to the MIT energy initiative site.

Photo credit: MIT Energy Initiative site

“We tried hard, and I think succeeded, to get a building where the sustainability is baked in,” Walter Henry, director of the Systems Engineering Group in the Department of Facilities, told the site. “It isn’t the frosting but a fundamental part of how we designed the building.”

Cost is one of the biggest questions when colleges consider building green. But according to the MIT site, the design team found that constructing the Sloan building with energy-efficient features did not have any additional expense and instead saved MIT money.

Environmental construction has many benefits besides saving colleges money. Studies show that the presence of improved sustainable lighting have a 27% reduction of headaches on the people who occupy the building according to The decrease of headaches leads to a higher level of academic achievement according to the site.

Through sustainable construction, college campuses will have benefits that exceed simple monetary spending. As green building increases its presence, many hope that the push for green building will extend beyond the campus and to the community.

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