Universities and colleges across the U.S. leading the way in energy efficient building

November 3, 2011

A number of universities and colleges across the U.S. have become involved in building projects that favor energy efficiency and sustainability. The increase in the number of structures that have been outfitted with this technology has been spurred by government involvement and initiatives that were set up.

Joint partnerships will often provide these organizations with the appropriate funding and resources for the development of energy efficient buildings and technology.

The Department of Energy designated a specific site to help move this effort forward at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Private companies and government entities have joined up with schools like Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, Rutgers University and the University of Pennsylvania at the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy-Efficient Buildings project (GPIC).

Technology that is developed at this site, along with models for energy efficient buildings, may be used to help organizations secure Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. This award from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) shows that the college or university, when applicable, used innovative practices to reduce energy consumption.

The Education Building of the University of Wisconsin, a 111-year-old facility was recently awarded the LEED Platinum certification for its green and sustainable improvements. The retrofit for the structure incorporated the use of occupancy sensor-controlled lighting fixtures and a design that promoted maximum natural light penetration, according to the World Interior Design Network.

Green roof decks on the Education Building also helped it secure a Platinum certification, as the water runoff has been reduced and over 57 percent of the site is filled with native vegetation which restricts soil erosion, the news source reported.

Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, has begun construction on a new science building that the school hopes will be eligible for LEED certification. The structure, slated to open in fall 2013, will feature modern spaces with integrated green and sustainable technology, according to the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.

"Clarke University is a leader in preparing the science and health science leaders of tomorrow," Clarke President Joanne Burrows, SC, Ph.D told the news source. "This new facility will create a learning environment that matches the exceptional quality of the university's science and health science programs."