Residence halls receive “green” certification

carson.lemahieu

NMU can now claim to have the only dormitory renovations in the Midwest and two of eight across the entire United States to receive official certification that they are “green buildings.”

The recent renovations to Meyland Hall and Van Antwerp Hall have both achieved benchmarks set by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Meyland Hall received a “certified” rating and Van Antwerp Hall received a “silver” rating on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating scale. The highest LEED rating available is a “platinum” rating.

Brandon Sager, the owner’s representative and sustainability coordinator for NMU’s engineering department, said that the certifications of the residence halls are a big step for Northern.

“I think that this is a new trend in the construction industry right now,” Sager said. “It’s even more special because they are the first certified buildings in the Upper Peninsula.”

The certification is based on five criteria: sustainable site development, materials selection, water savings, energy efficiency, and indoor environmental quality. The standards were created to provide consistent, credible guidelines for what constitutes green building design, construction and operation.

To achieve the ratings for the renovations, NMU used recycled construction materials, installed low-flow toilets, shower heads and faucets, improved airspace and natural lighting and purchased furnishings that were made of environmentally farmed timber.

“It’s a lot of little things,” Sager said. “They aren’t things that most people would notice.”

Taking environmental stability into account when planning renovations to buildings is nothing new for Northern. NMU Director of Communications Cindy Paavola said that the university has looked for ways to improve the eco-friendliness of campus buildings.

“Northern, as a university has always been concerned about stability and energy efficiency,” Paavola said. “From the 1970s on we have always looked for ways that we can promote energy efficiency.”

Paavola said the green buildings will also help the university attract potential students who are concerned about the environment.

“We recruit a lot of students who are interested in the environment, and renovations such as these are attractive to them,” she said. “These students will look to NMU and see us making these changes and receiving the LEED certification and realize where our priorities are when it comes to the environment.”

ASNMU President Hobie Webster said he is proud to be a part of an institution which is taking steps to become environmentally friendly.

“I think it’s a phenomenal thing for the university to step up and realize that we have a duty to reduce our ecological footprint,” Webster said. “It’s exciting to see this happen because Northern is not endowed with the billions of dollars that bigger Midwestern universities are, and yet here we are leading the way on green buildings.”

These two renovations are just the tip of the iceberg for LEED certified buildings at NMU. The university plans to seek certification for the remodeling that was done to Hunt Hall over the summer. These updates are expected to obtain a silver rating.

In addition, the university plans to follow LEED standards as they renovate buildings in the future.

“We’re going to build every building on campus with LEED standards in mind,” Paavola said. “Before anyone picks up a hammer to begin work we are going to be looking at these standards and making sure we are doing everything we can to go green.”