Buildin’ On Up

Mar 302009
Authors: Natasha Pepperl

In accordance with former CSU President Larry Penley’s green university goals and a January state mandate requiring public institutions to build to green standards, ongoing capital construction projects are all designed to minimize the university’s carbon footprint.

Those involved in the planning and construction phases of the almost $400 million in construction said each of the 17 current projects — all scheduled to be completed on-time — were planned to receive green certification through the use of recycled construction materials, natural and energy efficient lighting, fixtures and landscaping.

“Just from an energy conservation point . we will save money over time because (CSU) will be reducing energy use,” said Brian Chase, director of Facilities Management.

“(The university) will more than get its money back, which also reduces (its) carbon footprint.”

Chase said the new buildings and facilities were developed to receive high Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification as determined by the U.S. Green Building Council.

In order to achieve the gold level of LEED certification –/which ranges from “certified” to “platinum” –/on all but one of the construction projects, the university had to meet certain requirements, which included:

Installation of low-use water fixtures

Landscaping with native materials to reduce water use

Landscaping with microclimates to reduce building energy output

Developing on land that was previously developed

Using storm water sources for irrigation

Installation of solar arrays

Building with rapidly renewable, recyclable materials

Energy efficient lighting fixtures and

Maximization of natural lighting spaces.

The Academic Instruction Building, a four-story, 90,000 square-foot instruction building situated to the South of the C-wing of the Clark building, will feature two large atria in order to utilize natural light to save on energy costs.

Architect Per Hogestad, who developed a strategy to achieve LEED certification on several of the facilities, said high performance glass will be used in the windows of both this building and the new Academic Village residence hall in order to maximize the amount of ultra-violet light let in during the winter and minimize the light’s penetration in the summer.

Hogestad added that solar arrays would be installed on the roofs of the Academic Instruction Building and the Lake Street Parking Garage in order to capture solar power, acting as an alternative energy source in addition to traditional systems.

Local and recycled materials and rapidly renewable materials including bamboo and cork are also being used in the buildings’ construction to lessen their negative environmental impact. Energy efficient equipment, such as low-flow water fixtures are also being installed.

Hogestad said in order to reduce overall water usage, landscaping around the buildings will include native vegetation, which requires little watering.

Trees and other vegetation will be deliberately placed to shield buildings from wind and help shade them as a part of microclimate landscaping, which reduce energy usage.

Emphasizing the importance of providing facilities equal to the university’s standards of education, construction officials, administrators and students said the capital construction projects on campus are a necessary investment to maintain CSU’s competitive edge.

“It’s an investment for the future,” Chase said of the construction. “We needed a better quality of space for the students.”

Hogestad said he believes the buildings will provide much value for the university.

“These (new) buildings have all of those amenities that I think are important,” he said.

Among those amenities are a trading room fashioned after the New York Stock exchange in the CSU Business School’s Rockwell Hall addition, which will feature a real-time ticker.

“It sounds like CSU is really stepping it up,” said freshman pre-music major Michelle Jhun.

The North addition to the Student Recreation Center will include climbing walls and the Academic Instruction Building will feature a large auditorium, a Wi-Fi café and study lounges, and calculated scenic views, as achieved by its orientation and overall design.

Chase and Hogestad said CSU officials strove to construct the buildings in a way that is attractive to students and improves their quality of experience. As a result, he said the buildings will be “user-friendly” and very comfortable.

Fred Haberecht, assistant director of Landscape and Planning, believes the additions to CSU will do more than just improve the campus. He believes they will also draw prospective students.

“The external appearance of the campus has a direct impact on student recruitment and retention,” he said, noting that there is a correlation between improved and high-quality college facilities and increased student recruitment and enrollment.

Interim Provost Rick Miranda agreed with these sentiments, noting in an e-mail, “Colorado State is now in the unique and advantageous position of being able to move forward on improving campus for students even during a time of economic downturn.”

“Again we know both that facility improvements at CSU are overdue, and that these facilities certainly do add value to a campus for students,” Miranda said. “Students choose a campus because of the quality of the academic program and faculty, but up-to-date, high-functioning facilities can help influence the final choice. We believe, as part of larger admissions plans, that the facilities will attract more outstanding students to campus.”

Staff writer Natasha Pepperl can be reached at

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