Nationwide, colleges and universities open up to green technologies

At institutions of higher learning, a greener approach has begun. Universities and colleges across the country have begun incorporating energy efficienct, eco-friendly techniques in their facilities.


The new bathrooms at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business feature innovative, green technologies. The marble countertops and wood-paneled doors accent the superficial qualities of the bathrooms, but the toilets are the ones receiving recognition. Coated to resist germs, the electric-green handles on the toilets can be pushed either up or down, creating a high-intensity or low-intensity flush. The dual-flush toilets and water-less urinals will reduce water consumption by as much as 67%.

Located in the center of campus, the Ross School of Business has been open for more than a month. The business school’s main atrium features huge skylights that take advantage of natural light, while using high-efficiency and electricity and daylight-dimming systems. Parts of the roof on the 270,000-sq ft building are covered with soil and plants to insulate the buildings, filter rainfall, and improve air quality by trapping impurities.

Receptacles line the hallways of the buildings, dedicated to recycling cans and paper. Non-toxic carpet lines the hallways and the walls are covered with low-VOC pain, which reduces the emission of air pollutants and greenhouse gases. The school reports that 94% of the demolition debris and 50% of debris from construction was recycled.

Administrators at the University of Michigan plan to submit the project for LEED silver certification from the USGBC. Students and faculty in the Erb Institute of Global Sustainable Enterprise pushed for the certification. The university’s certifying process met heavy resistance from the costs associated with LEED certification. The cost of the certification was 1% of the total $110 million construction cost or $1.1 million. Although the building is not a standout in terms of certification, the effect on the university will be long lasting. Students and faculty have begun to demand greener standards for campus development.

"This was a watershed moment in changing how we design buildings at the University of Michigan," said university alumnus Brian Swett, who was one of several graduate students in the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise who pushed for the LEED certification of the Business School.

Michigan’s school of business scored a "B" on the College Sustainability Report card for green buildings, while universities Virginia, Cal-Berkeley, and North Carolina scored an A for the past two years. Universities across the country continue to push for greener buildings and high certifications. The new Stanford Graduate School of Business campus, set to open in 2010, will seek Platinum LEED certification. MIT’s Sloan School of Management will be solar-ready, which will allow for the installation of solar panels at a later date.

If you'd like to find out more, take a virtual tour of the Ross School of Business here .

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