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'Green' University Center Blossoms in Time for Spring Semester

[photos] [UC Fact Sheet] [UWRF Sustainability Fact Sheet]

JAN. 15, 2007--What germinated as a seed of an idea several years ago by two Earth Consciousness Organization members at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls has grown into a new University Center incorporating green and sustainable design principles opening in time for spring semester.      

            The $34 million contemporary edifice represents a commitment by students as $32,927,000 of the project came from student segregated fees, for students as their center of involvement and activities, and for future generations of students with a focus on sustainability throughout the building.

            "Thanks to the vision and determination of university leaders, and particularly our students, the UC will serve as a model for bringing people together to learn, collaborate, create and enjoy," says UWRF Chancellor Don Betz. "It will also be a tangible example of UWRF's commitment to sustainability and to being good stewards of our resources. This is a defining moment in the 133-year history of this distinguished institution."

            The 140,000 square-foot building signifies the nascent UW System sustainability initiative, announced last summer by Gov. Jim Doyle. The governor announced that four UW System campuses, including UWRF, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Green Bay and UW-Oshkosh, will take the lead toward going "off the grid" in the next five years.

            Several years ago Rusty Callier and Phyllis Jaworski, both ECO club members and 2001 graduates, tracked energy use, water consumption and waste generation in campus buildings for an academic project. Their project culminated in an outline of how sustainable and green design principles could be utilized in campus buildings starting with a student union.

            "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," said Kelly Cain, professor of plant and earth science and advisor to Callier and Jaworski's project. The pair presented the findings to the UW System Board of Regents who embraced the project, UWRF students committed segregated fees to the project, and the new UC became a reality.

Grand opening week

              Grand opening events Jan. 21- 28 will celebrate the UC's opening and highlight the new building at the center of the UWRF's sustainability endeavors. A community open house is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28.

            While student tours are scheduled for Jan. 21 and a host of students have been readying the building for months, a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. on Jan. 23 will officially mark the center's opening. The ceremony is followed by a dedication of the falcon wall and carving, a presentation by the University of Minnesota Raptor Center and a reception.

            Speakers at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 23 include:

            ·UWRF Chancellor Don Betz and Provost Charlie Hurt

            ·Gregg Heinselman, executive director student life services at UWRF and Mike Stifter, director of student life facilities at UWRF

            ·Shaun Priesgen, a senior majoring in geography from Fond du Lac and chair of the university center committee

            ·Natalie Hagberg, a junior majoring in broad field social studies and chair of the leadership development and programming board

            ·Joe Eggers, a junior political science major from Appleton and president of the UWRF Student Senate

            ·Matthew Meyer, a senior environmental science major from Osseo and chair of the UWRF Earth Consciousness Organization    

            Other event highlights during grand opening week include:

            ·Sunday, Jan. 21, 4-7 p.m., student tours.

            ·Monday, Jan. 22, 6:30 p.m., hearthstone celebration with a candlelight walk from the Hagestad Student Center to the UC and dedication of the Robert Sievert Fireplace Lounge, free.

            ·Tuesday, Jan. 23, 3 p.m. Ribbon-cutting ceremony; 8 p.m., recycled percussion concert, Falcon's Nest entertainment complex. free.
            · Wednesday, Jan. 24, 1:30 p.m. Dedication of Paul Granlund Sculpture, "The Singers, followed by reception in the Sievert Fireplace Lounge, free; 3 p.m., international flag dedication, followed by international dance performance, Falcon's Nest, free.

            ·Thursday, Jan. 25, 3, 8 and 10 p.m., film, "An Inconvenient Truth," Kinnickinnic River Theater, free.

            ·Friday, Jan. 26, 9 a.m., Involvement Center Open House; 9 p.m. to midnight, All-campus Welcome-Back Bash, free.

            ·Saturday, Jan. 27, 7 p.m., Murder-Mystery Dinner, Riverview Ballroom. (Tickets $10 students, $20 public).

            Sunday, Jan. 28 2 - 4 p.m., community open house, free.

Focus on Student Life

            As the primary building for student life, the UC represents a student commitment that began with the initial idea and grew into a committee of students who helped oversee the planning and design process and continued as students helped complete and ready the building for use. Student positions include a building manager position, lead workers, receptionists, event coordinators, and in food and retail services, according to Mike Stifter, director of student life programming.

            "One of the underlying principles that predated my time in the student life programming area is that if we can put our jobs in the hands of students, that is a good thing," says Stifter. "We are in the process of hiring students in all areas."

            In the last few months before the opening, Stifter estimates that more than 2,500 student hours were devoted to everything from planning grand opening activities to final touches on the building, including computer wiring and installation by Frednet, the student-run computer center.

            "Both the students and the contractors and subcontractors have put a lot of pride into this project," says Stifter, "I've seen them bring their families to show them the building because it is a unique project they've been a part of."           

Focus on sustainable design

            A wall of glass spans the building façade on the south side, mirroring the gentle curve of South Fork of the Kinnickinnic River of which it overlooks. The world-class trout stream offers a natural beauty that sets the campus apart from others in the region. In addition, the natural resource offers bountiful opportunities to learn about and protect the meandering waterway amidst walking trails and native plants.

            The commitment to reclaim and recycle materials started with the deconstruction Ames Education Building, the site on which the new UC is constructed, according to the UWRF facility management department. For example, several architectural elements from Ames were retained for their aesthetic qualities and used as seating as well as ornamentation and sculpture in the UC.

            While the design highlights local, natural materials such stone from Winona, Minn., and the interior makes use of natural lighting and earth-inspired colors throughout the building, green design principles include a 48,000 gallon storage capacity under the building for collected rainwater from the roof that is filtered back into the building where it's used to flush toilets.

            A white roof that reflects sunlight is intended to decrease summer cooling costs, and energy efficient windows, LED and photoelectric lighting, and water-saving fixtures will maximize savings. All cleaning chemicals used in the building are non-toxic and environmentally friendly, and low volatile organic compound paints, sealers and adhesives were used as much as possible.

            An environmental kiosk highlights campus sustainability initiatives and monitors the building's resource consumption, which is estimated to be 40 percent less than comparable buildings, according to energy auditors Arnold & O'Sheridan, Inc.


            The east area by the south entrance features an outdoor bonfire area with a natural landscaped amphitheater for up to 75 people. The North Mall commons is another area designed for outdoor events.

            Meeting rooms are named after rivers in the Lower St. Croix and Upper Mississippi watersheds, including the Chippewa, St. Croix, Rush, Red Cedar, Kinnickinnic, Mississippi, Eau Galle, Apple, Willow, Trimbelle, and Wind.

            Amenities in the new building include bi-level game room with Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 console cabinets, a state-of-the-art multi-media theater with seating capacity for 150, an entertainment complex with a second level balcony, large screen plasma televisions and state-of-the-art staging, sound and lighting equipment for concerts, productions and special events.

            The Cyber Café features 12 computer kiosks as well as coffee and snacks, and the building offers wireless access. Food service includes several retail outlets and Riverside Commons, a buffet-style dining area featuring various cooking stations.

            A branch of the First National Bank of River Falls opens in the University Center on Jan. 22. The Follett University bookstore will remain in its current location of the Hagestad Hall (formerly Hagestad Student Center) until March. An information desk, copy center, student involvement/services office complex, convenience store, and heritage hall round out the new facility.

            The also facility is available for event, meetings, receptions and conference rentals.


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:07:54 Central Daylight Time


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