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November 2, 2001

New Campus Building to be Conservation Oriented

New buildings throughout the 26-campus University of Wisconsin System will see enhanced environmental construction measures due to the efforts of two recent UW-River Falls graduates.

After conducting an environmental audit of the buildings on campus, Rusty Callier, a 2001 UW-RF graduate with a degree in land use planning from River Falls and Phyllis Jaworski, a 2001 UW-RF graduate with a degree in animal science from Kaukauna, realized there was more that Wisconsin's public higher education universities could do through what is known as "sustainable design" to make its buildings more efficient to operate and more environmentally friendly.

Last May, during a visit by the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, Callier and Jaworski presented recommendations to improve existing building efficiencies. The Regents physical planning and funding committee was so impressed with the presentation that they asked the System Administration to explore incorporating sustainable design procedures into all projects.

In September, the Regents, based on the administrative review, enhanced their policies on building efficiencies and sustainability to incorporate Callie's and Jaworski's recommendations.

The administrative recommendation noted, "While the exiting Physical Planning Principles already contain concepts that encourage sustainable practices without being clearly defined or labeled as such, it is likely and appropriate that interest in the specific area of sustainability will continue. To ensure that existing and future generations of people involved in University facilities planning address those concerns, UW system Administration recommends that some minor modifications be made to the Physical Planning Principles."

Sustainable design, known also as "green architecture," is dedicated to the conservation of resources. Methods include using the fewest resources possible and using materials that will have the least impact on the environment, employing alternative fuels, minimizing water consumption, and using recycled products or those products that can be recycled. New buildings are planned to accommodate future additions.

Callier learned in a class taught by plant and earth science Professor Kelly Cain that an environmental audit is a way of tracking energy and water use and the amount of waste generated in a building, to identify those buildings that are inefficient. He audited the existing buildings on campus over a two-year period through a federal McNair Scholarship research project.

Callier, who was president of Resource Management Club, then joined forces with Jaworski, who was president of Eco Club, the other environmental science club on campus. They conducted research, then combined their information with the results of the audit and put together some recommendations.

"Three new buildings will be going up on campus in the near future: a residence hall, a student union, and a health and human performance complex," said Cain. "The students felt this offered a chance to move the University toward sustainability and set the example for the rest of the community and the UW System. When their audit was complete, they put together some recommendations."

Cain said the students first approached Chancellor Ann Lydecker with their ideas, and made their presentation to her administrative cabinet. She was enthused about the possibilities, and scheduled the students to present their findings to the Board of Regents during its visit in May.

According to Campus Planner Dale Braun, one of the first projects on campus will be the new student union, which will be where the Ames Building is currently located. The structure will be designed so that additions or renovations can be made easily. Bricks from the old building will be reused, and the steel will be sent to a recycling center. Various types of solar power are being considered as a partial substitute to traditional energy sources.

"Minimizing water consumption is also a high priority," said Braun. "A plan to collect rainwater for toilet flushing is being considered. This will allow for the drinking water to be used only for drinking."

Said Cain, "The hope is that the new student union will be a showcase of sustainable design for the UW System. On the walls, we hope to have meters that track water and electrical use, and show the dollar amount conversions for how much the use costs. It is even possible, through the renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies,, that the meters will run backward and the electrical company will buy our excess energy."

The cost for implementing sustainability measures is higher at the front end than that of conventional construction methods. However, the savings will come in the long term, in the form of decreased utility bills and less expense for future additions.

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