Approach to Green Building

Campus sustainability programs today focus largely on recycling, energy, and water conservation measures; reduction of harmful chemicals and pesticides, and so on. These measures, along with other measurable and third-party-verified building performance considerations, are all included in the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance green building rating system. Many universities don’t realize that LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance can be applied across multiple buildings, but it can. It’s not about constructing one building at a time; it is about implementing measures across a portfolio of buildings that can meet and exceed the LEED credits and prerequisites, and with LEED, the practices and measures that make buildings perform better quickly become second nature.

Campuses of higher education are perfectly suited to apply holistic, portfolio-wide green building strategies as part of their campus sustainability efforts. With their commitment to innovation, their abundant supply of energetic young people intent on becoming the leaders of the future and insistent on attending schools that share their values, and their large stock of buildings of all ages, uses and types, colleges and universities are quickly becoming the driving force behind overall market transformation. And green buildings on campus give back to the school and the community, as they can serve as living laboratories and provide active, hands-on learning opportunities.

The integrated-design approach has become synonymous with sustainability. In higher education, an integrated approach to greening a campus is critical for achieving the ultimate goal of a sustainable campus. All members of the community have a part in the process, and there are great opportunities for cross-departmental collaborations. Buildings and grounds offer a fertile environment for curriculum development and research, particularly in terms of sustainable technologies and strategies.

Campus Master Plan

One of the first steps to greening a campus is to review the campus master plan and identify strategies for integrating sustainability into design standards and long-range development plans. Master plans look at the future growth and development of a site and the infrastructure needed to support the inevitable construction. Plans should consider opportunities to increase density and retain open areas for natural habitat, thus promoting biodiversity. Comprehensive stormwater management techniques should include best management practices of retaining stormwater runoff on-site through strategies such as the collection of rainwater, increased pervious surfaces, bioswales, constructed wetlands, and vegetated roofs. Institutions should consider discouraging parking development and employing alternative methods of transportation, such as campus shuttles and infrastructure that enables and promotes biking, while creating a pedestrian-friendly environment.

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Capstone is also different than its approach to “green” building and energy savings. Capstone Homes factors in the cost of energy into the designs of its new home. Capstone focuses less on certifications and promises. Capstone homes focuses on cost.