Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Beloit College Brings Sustainable Methods to Campus

In the spring of 2007, Beloit College broke ground for its new Center for the Sciences after more than a decade of planning. With a planned opening at the start of the Fall 2008 semester, students will soon begin to have classes in the new building, which will be an LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building. Planning for the Center for the Sciences has been underway since 1994, before the LEED system even was developed. The science center will stand between the current science building (Chamberlin) and the college’s Sports Center. The building will be 116,000 sq. feet when completed and ground was broken with 492 days to complete the largest project in the college’s history [Rhodebeck, “Groundbreaking Ceremony”]. The building was designed by architects Holabird & Root and the campus-planning group Civitas, while construction firm J.H. Findorff & Sons, Inc. and Klobucar Construction are building the facility [Rhodebeck].
*from the Center for the Sciences site

The Beloit College Center for the Sciences is one of several independent initiatives in the City of Beloit that have been environmentally friendly. In the last decade, Beloit College has begun to step-up the amount of “green” programs. Not only are these initiatives good for the environment, but they also save the college money. In 2004, the college brought in the company Johnson Controls to evaluate the campus’ energy uses. They were able the save the college $234,600 annually, because of less energy consumption [“Sustainable Buildings”]. The building of an environmentally friendly science center is consistent with the goals of the college and the City of Beloit to support sustainability.

“To some extent almost any of these things will pay for themselves, at some point in their lifetime,” stated Kohnstamm Professor of Chemistry and faculty leader for the construction project, Brock Spencer, speaking about green technology [Spencer]. “It’s something that students graduating from places like Beloit need to be attuned to, because it will be part of your everyday lives,” he concluded.

The Center for the Sciences will hold the departments of biology, chemistry, geology, math and computer science, psychology and physics departments, as well as the Center for Language Studies over the summer months. “We have come a long way,” stated Spencer, speaking on the years of planning needed to complete the project. Spencer stated that the Center for the Sciences has been announced as a Silver level LEED building, although he now believes they will have enough “points” to gain the Gold level. “We have always talked about being at the Silver level and we will be submitting enough points to actually get Gold and we think there is a fairly good chance of that,” he said.

*from Professor Robin Greenler

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) uses a point system to determine the levels of LEED certification. Points are given for achieving different environmentally friendly goals in the construction of a building. With more points, buildings receive a higher level of certification. A Gold certified building has between 39-51 points [USGBC]. The college submits what Spencer described as “vast amounts of documentation,” to the USGBC in order to gain the certification, which have amounted to hundreds of pages. The deconstruction of Chamberlin Hall is also included in the LEED evaluation along with extra points for recycling the materials in Chamberlin

It has only been within the last 6-8 years that there have been a significant amount of green buildings that have been built (Spencer). “We knew what we wanted to do, but we didn’t know how to go about documenting it,” said Spencer about planning before an LEED system was developed. Beloit College has long been committed to sustainability and in recently years has made changing in lighting systems, in addition to reconstructing the central boiler plant with a more efficient system.

The project will be completed after winter of 2008/2009, but departments will move into the new science center on July 14th, 2008 and the process will last several weeks. Most of the moving will be done on carts and the college will hire a special company to help with the move. This method is considered environmentally friendly because it does not require the use of boxes to be thrown away after the move is completed. Spencer stated that they found it to be faster than traditional methods of moving.

A “green roof” will be built on the top of the science center, which is designed by ABC Supply Company and will feature their GreenGrid Green Roof System. The space will hopefully act as a place of a relaxation, but will most likely include a research area for studying the roof and its effectiveness. Alliant Energy has paid for tools that will monitor the temperature and energy uses of the roof space.

In every aspect of the project, the environment and sustainability was taken into consideration. For example, a majority of the building supplies come from within 500 miles. Since the deconstruction of Chamberlin is also taken into LEED consideration, the policy of “reuse, resale, recycling” will be used for all parts of the building. “Once we get out of [Chamberlin]…we will start going through all of the stuff in the building. All the classroom furniture will be taken out and then be sold or donated to charitable organizations…were working with a Madison, [Wisconsin] environmental group. Our first objective is to keep it out of the landfill,” Spencer stated regarding the move. Each type of item from will be stacked up and then either donated or resold. Items such as chalkboard or Chamberlin desks will be used by the college or put towards local community needs. Spencer gave the bricks of Chamberlin as an example of a material that can be recycled to build roads.

It is estimated that over 95% of chamberlin will be recycled. This will be a key element in gaining LEED certification points. The attached greenhouse may even by used by a local organization. Once elements of the building that can be recycled or resold are removed, Chamberlin will be taken apart slowly. “You literally have to go in and deconstruct it bit by bit,” Spencer concluded.

*Time lapse video of the construction


Works Cited

Groundbreaking Ceremony. 2007. Beloit, WI. Beloit College. 21 Mar. 2008 <**>.

Rhodebeck, Ashley. "College to Builds $36.5 Million Center." Stateline Business. June 2007. Western Container. 7 Mar. 2008 <**>.

Spencer, Brock. Personal interview. 17 Mar. 2008.

"Sustainable Buildings." Beloit College Center for the Sciences. 2007. Beloit College. 16 Mar. 2008 <**>.

Usgbc. "FAQ." U.S. Green Building Council. USGBC. 19 Mar. 2008 <**>.

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