Green architecture is potentially one of the hippest ways for humans to decrease their carbon footprint. It’s much easier to create a carbon neutral building from scratch then to “green-up” an older building. To create a truly carbon neutral building, you need to do more then add a solar panel and green house.
College campuses are a prime place to witness older buildings getting a green renovation. I recently visited University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to view their natural resources building. Michigan’s Program in the Environment -- or PIE, as it is referred to by students -- is impressive. Offering majors in everything from environmental justice to geology, the program tries to connect students and help fuel the newest age of environmentalists. I met with Dr. David Allen, graduate dean of students, for a tour of the DANA building, the greenest building on campus.
The DANA building boasts a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold certification. LEED ratings aren’t easy to come by, especially at the gold level. The LEED system rates buildings based on their sustainability, water efficiency, energy use, materials and resources used, indoor environmental quality and innovation and design. What has the DANA building done to receive such a prestigious honor? Well, lots.
The greening of DANA:
• Bathroom stalls are composed of plastic bottles
• Includes a composting toilet (the only one on campus)
• Photovoltaic roof
• All building materials made of recycled goods
• All products certified by LEED
• All paper products, ink and other office material made of recycled materials
• No extra/wasted space. Any “bare” areas have been converted to student lounges
“Every little detail goes into making our products sustainable,” said Allen. He also talked about how the campus tries to get the word out. “We never use that awful shiny paper for our brochures,” he assured me. It's important to let the community know what the university is doing, he explained.
"It seems that the more people we can get excited about our building, the more we can achieve," he said.