Photo by Cassandra Bauer
BY HALEY HODGES
Drake University’s new buildings boast more than offering a proper home for students studying Science, Technology, Education and Math. President Marty Martin announced in his Welcome Back email that the new buildings, both Collier-Scripps Hall and the Science Connector Building, were completed on time and on budget. They include features including gender neutral bathrooms, lactation rooms and both are environmentally sustainable.
Martin’s email noted that the buildings earned two Green Globes from the Green Building Initiative. Venessa Macro, Drake’s Chief Administrative Officer, said that the university currently only anticipates earning the certification. A certifier was on campus last week to tour the buildings. Drake should hear in the next four to six weeks but the architects, construction teams and other parties involved in creating the buildings are confident they should qualify.
David Courard-Hauri, professor of environmental science and sustainability and co-chair of Drake’s sustainability oversight committee, was involved on the committee planning the sustainable aspects of the new buildings and working towards getting the Green Globe certifications.
“Essentially, most of the certification process for programs like Green Globes have checklists and for different things, you can get points and if you get a certain number of points, then you get a certain level of certification,” Courard-Hauri said. “So with Green Globe, you get points for everything from how the project is managed to what you do with the site in terms of sustainability to energy, emissions, water, all those kinds of things. It’s designed to allow for flexibility but also means that you’ve overall met a certain level of sustainability … Our goal was to ensure that the points that we were getting were at least somewhat meaningful and that we weren’t just jumping through hoops to get the inability to get a certain number of points.”
Before working on the sustainability of the STEM buildings, Drake had signed the University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, an agreement higher education institutions around the world have signed pledging to create climate solutions. Drake had committed to this group in April 2007 and then joined AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, during the last academic year to report and measure their sustainability efforts.
Courard-Hourari said these agreements are a commitment for Drake to build certified green buildings earning two Green Globes worth of certification for any new projects and doing their best on any current renovations.
“An important design feature of both buildings are things you don’t necessarily see but that have a substantial impact on energy performance,” Macro said. “The lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation systems in the buildings are all designed and selected with an eye toward minimizing energy consumption. The buildings include energy efficient equipment, light reduction controls, controls for day lighted zones and automatic light shut off devices – all which advance the buildings’ sustainability. The buildings are designed to optimize daylight, which reduces energy consumption and adds to building comfort.”
As well of these features, Macro said the buildings have small things that make them environmentally friendly like having shared refrigerators and microwaves. Though such a small change may not seem like much, limiting everyday electric guzzling items slowly adds up.
“In addition to committing to sustainable practices in construction on campus, we are advancing other sustainability initiatives,” Macro said. “Reducing electrical usage across campus is a key focus. This means evaluating our heating, cooling and electrical systems for maximum efficiency all over campus much like we did for the two new STEM@Drake buildings. We are currently studying whether solar might be an option for some of our buildings on campus now or in the future.”
Along with the sustainable accomplishments of the new buildings, Drake has been making other strides by reconstructing 27th and 28th Street to cut down on storm water run-off, planting native species that require less water, composting in the dining halls and using single-stream recycling.
Drake plans to continue its commitment to environmental sustainability through small everyday efforts as well as in future construction projects. Drake’s commitments will ensure further pursuit of receiving Green Globe certifications.
“We are pleased with the way the Green Globes certification process has gone,” Macro said in an email. “It guides our decision-making and gives us a workable road map for advancing our sustainability efforts. We are committed to those or similar certification standards in all new buildings. Current plans are underway for a new Boys and Girls Club on campus and that building will also seek Green Globes certification.”