Harvard University has long been known to take the lead in research, public administration, and business and law studies, so why not sustainability? The university has become the first higher education institution to have earned 50 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications for new construction or renovation to existing buildings. LEED-certified buildings save money on energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to a healthier environment.
For decades, academic libraries have been distinguishing elements of campuses across the nation. Providing abundant resources along with quiet environments conducive to individual study, these buildings withstood the test of time, serving the needs of students and faculty alike. Today, modern technology, along with rapidly changing student study habits and expectations, are significantly reducing the demand for brick and mortar resource centers.
Similar to their corporate counterparts, institutions of higher education have to operate in a fiscally responsible manner, which means managing budgets and achieving bottom line results. While there are many factors that contribute to success in this arena, the recent decline in state support for higher education is making it more difficult for colleges and university to grow and thrive. Today’s reality is that reduced funding puts more pressure on colleges and universities as they compete for limited dollars.
Campus Apartments broke ground on an estimated $107 million housing project at Howard University (D.C.). in March. The 1,360-bed project, slated for August 2014 completion, includes two on-campus facilities that will bring underclassmen closer to the campus core. The residences will offer two-person semisuites, social and study lounges, game rooms, and laundry facilities, as well as independent apartment units for faculty, staff, and guests.
Summer months on college and university campuses are typically filled with a multitude of facilities projects ranging from required maintenance and renovations to new building construction. The period between spring commencement and fall convocation are important months for renewing facilities, as the majority of students, and many faculty, are not on campus and therefore not inconvenienced by construction during these months. But how do colleges sell the benefits of facilities projects and campus expansions during a time when expense reduction measures are negatively impacting personnel?
You have space on campus for a new building, and visions of a cutting-edge learning center dance in your head. The technology-infused building will be so magnetic that admission applications will pour in, professors will clamour for classroom assignments, and local businesses will plead for partnerships.
Of course, funding won’t be an issue because the new technology center will be so innovative and visionary that bonds and grants will stream across your desk like ducks in a pond.
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With any campus building, what’s on the inside counts just as much—and probably more—than what’s on the outside. This is especially true with residence halls, which must include a balance of private and shared spaces. “The buildings need to promote interaction among students to encourage peer-to-peer learning in support of the institution’s academic mission,” says Jackson Kane, an associate and housing specialist at Lord, Aeck & Sargent. That’s no small order.