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Building for a green future at UW-Superior

Posted on Sep 4, 2013
A green roof, stormwater ponds, recycled buildings and bike friendliness are just some of the ways UW-Superior is bringing sustainability to its operations.
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Building for a green future at UW-Superior

There is a new look and a new feeling on campus clean and green.

From new state-of-the-art buildings to odorless cleaning products to electric cars, UW-Superior is taking steps to be more environmentally friendly.

One of the most visible highlights of sustainability on campus is the Yellowjacket Union, which opened January 2010. It recently achieved a coveted LEED® Silver certification, an honor awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Gail Archambault, director of the Yellowjacket Union, is proud of the certification achievement.

"The design team's goal from the beginning was to become LEED-certified," she said. "Everything we did in the design process ­ air handling, water, natural lighting, and the green roof ­ were all concepts designed to achieve that goal."

Many building design details, from its orientation, contents and window design to its roof help maintain even temperatures year round. In the winter, the low-angled sunshine helps to heat the building. In the summer, a living "green roof" helps to cool the building. The sloping roof¹s thick mat of vegetation absorbs rainwater, reducing the impact on the neighborhood storm runoff. The excess rain also moves into a rain garden which slows down the overflow into the city system. The roof is one of the northernmost green roofs of its kind, and university officials say it¹s doing well since it was installed in August 2009.

Inside the YU, one will find even more examples of those committed to a greener environment.

"The furniture that we purchased, the carpeting, the paint all had to have a low VOC (volatile organic compounds) rating and contain recycled content," Archambault added. Bathroom fixtures also feature unique sustainable options.

The Jacket Java coffee shop, run by A'viands in the Yellowjacket Union, has been named a 2-Star Certified Green Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association.® When it opened, it was just the fourth of its kind in Wisconsin that could claim that distinction.

Debora Novotny, A¹viands director of food service at UW-Superior, was thrilled to get that honor. "A'viands has a full-scale recycling program.

They recycle all cardboard, paper, plastics and cans. All food waste is picked up and composted, and cooking oil is picked up weekly and recycled into livestock feed ingredients and biofuels." A'viands tries to use as many locally produced items as it can, such as veggies from the Residence Life gardens on campus, which produce tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and herbs for the café.

Energy-saving options are used outside Yellowjacket Union as well. Tom Fennessey, director of facilities management at UW-Superior, agrees that the parking lot changes are a big plus. "The lights are dark-sky compliant. They are brighter and cleaner and shed light better," he said. "They require fewer light poles, reduce light pollution and are compliant with the City of Superior nuisance lighting ordinance. We have tried to downcast and at the same time allow enough light for security."

The parking lot also features bioswales ­ landscaped shallow depressions ­ that capture and hold the snow and rain, filtering it before it reaches the city storm sewer system. Some of the water evaporates and the bioswales are able to hold most of it long enough to soak in and cleanse it. The university also has bioswales at the Jim Dan Hill Library, Marcovich Wellness Center, Ross Hall and Hawkes Hall parking lots.

Fennessey gives credit to the students for their determination that the Yellowjacket Union be LEED-certified. "This buildling will be their legacy for years to come; they helped plan and pay for the building."

Another new campus building, Swenson Hall, was built to LEED Silver certified standards. Opened in 2011, this new academic building has sustainable features, such as maximum use of natural lighting. It¹s built with materials including bio-based floor tile, terrazzo, carpet, and ceramic tile made with recycled materials.

The facilities management staff at UW-Superior has been a shining star in sustainability, leading by example. Staff members ride around campus on mountain bikes and have made the department nearly paperless, working with tablets and iPads whenever possible. The unit has been using the bikes for about three years now and Fennessey believes riding the bikes around campus makes a difference.

"It¹s not only a sustainability thing. It also is a healthy thing. It allows us to see the campus at a different level. It gives us a student perspective of where the bike racks are, how many there are and the condition of the roads and sidewalks around campus." Using the bikes over the last three years has also limited miles on the car fleet.

Over the past five years facilities management has incorporated greener cleaning products. UW-Superior has been on the cutting edge of technology, using Green Seal-certified chemicals that don¹t harm the environment. No pesticides or herbicides are used on lawns and the grass is kept a bit higher to save even more resources on mowing, weed control and watering.

There are also more "no mow zones" throughout campus near creeks, hills and waterways.

Frank Andrews, building and grounds superintendent at UW-Superior, has trained with Twin Ports Sustainability and has helped lead the way in the use of cleaner, greener chemicals on campus.

"We now use ionators that use a positive and negative charge just using regular tap water. The people that use them, love them. You can clean with just cold water and reduce the stress on the hands all at the same time. It¹s cleaner and safer," he says.

When older equipment wears out, the university has been getting newer sustainable equipment to replace it. Many of the new cleaning products have no scent which is industry standard. They are also using new and improved waxing and stripping products on the floors that are more environmentally friendly.

The administration at UW-Superior had the vision and the foresight to recycle buildings during demolition. The old Rothwell Student Center was 86 percent recycled as items were used for other purposes. Sundquist Hall was 93 percent recycled, McCaskill Hall 55 percent, Ross/Hawkes Hall renovations 80 percent. The State of Wisconsin had a minimum demolition and construction rate of 50 percent, but was so impressed with innovative practices at UW-Superior they raised the standard to 75 percent.

Dusty Johnson, facilities project manager added, "The school has been the leader in recycled buildings. The Ross and Hawkes residence hall remodeling is also keeping pace with other new construction on campus. The redesigned Ross and Hawkes Hall, which is slated to open in the fall, will make use of natural lighting and energy efficient lighting systems and will have improved heating and cooling systems."

Johnson pointed out that the students had a hand in making the residence halls environmentally friendly as well. "Students helped design the suites, bathrooms and made furniture selections."

The campus will also begin utilizing four new electric cars to move people and equipment around campus. The Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) cars are low-speed and road-compliant. The electric vehicles were originally built for the military and have about 50 miles of road life with each charge. The cars can recharge at any standard electric outlet and will allow the campus to save money on fuel.

The greenhouse connected to Barstow Hall, opening June 2013, is much more energy efficient than the old greenhouse, which will also be recycled.

The new Stanley Oexemann Greenhouse will be about 450 square feet smaller than the former, but it will include a "tall house" portion to accommodate large plants.

On your next campus visit, take a look around and notice the new look and feeling: clean and green!

News Contact: Tom Hansen | 715-394-8260 | thansen7{atuws}
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