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Renovating for Sustainability

"RENOVATIONS ARE GOING TO BE THE main driver of projects for the next five years, because campuses are thinking of what they can do with what they have,” says David Damon, a LEED associate principal in the Boston office of Perkins+Will. Replacing carpeting with linoleum, reclaimed wood, or carpet tiles is one trend Damon is seeing.

Community colleges in Oregon are carefully considering adaptive reuse as the best way to utilize bond money and federal stimulus funds, says Mark Stoller, senior associate with Yost Grube Hall Architecture. Repurposing existing buildings could potentially save both money and the environment.

While changing lightbulbs is the first, easy step many higher ed institutions take to go green, administrators at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College have gone the extra step of addressing lighting levels. “We’ve found that we’ve had inconsistent light levels from building to building,” explains CFO James F. Blumreich. Guided by a light meter and national standards, fixtures are being replaced to achieve optimum levels while maintaining safety, and new paint and carpeting help enhance lighting.

Retrofits of major systems such as lighting and HVAC can have long-term benefits. These projects can be funded with performance contracts, which use the money saved on utility bills to pay for the upgrades. In light of the current economy, Nick DiCiacco, senior director of facilities management operations at Florida International University, is relieved he started a performance contract in 1994 with Johnson Controls to address those systems. “Last year we added 135,000 square feet of new building space and still had a 6 percent decrease in energy usage over the same time last year,” he says, adding that establishing a solid baseline of current usage is important for monitoring the contract.

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