New Sustainable Campus Master Planning Concepts for Higher Education
Jeffrey Sronkoski and Vuk Vujovic to share higher education planning strategies for increased sustainability, deep energy efficiency, and net-zero campus operations at the architecture and design event of the year
[Philadelphia, PA] – Higher education institutions, faced by rising financial pressures and fluctuating enrollment, continue to seek ways to reduce operating costs while improving on educational delivery. Trained to problem-solve, architects can help leverage sustainable master planning skills and guide colleges and universities toward more energy and cost efficient campus operation.
On May 19, Legat Architects’ Jeffrey Sronkoski and Vuk Vujovic will present “New Sustainable Campus Master Planning Concepts for Higher Education” at the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Convention 2016 in Philadelphia. They will draw from their planning experiences in the Midwest to share ways that higher education is planning for long-term energy use reduction. The result: colleges and universities have more funding available for education.
“Campus master plans are no longer just about assessing academic needs and capital improvements,” said Sronkoski, principal and director of Legat’s Higher Education practice. “We are integrating concepts, like deep energy efficiency and renewable energy, to provide clients with practical measures that will result in long-term cost savings.”
The speakers will share case studies of their recent work to illustrate concepts like net-zero energy consumption, on-site renewable energy integration (e.g., photovoltaic panels, wind turbines), and use of sustainable technologies as teaching tools that educate occupants about high-performance building operations.
Educate. Perform. Cool.
Joliet Junior College, the nation’s first two-year higher education institution, completed its sustainable master plan in 2008. To showcase institutional commitment to sustainability, the college’s main campus has added six new facilities, all designed for high energy efficiency and various levels of LEED certification. While the campus footprint nearly doubled due to expansion, the overall energy use per square foot was reduced, with an equal drop in annual energy expenditure.
Vujovic, Legat’s vice president and director of sustainability & energy, said, “Tracking energy data, carbon emissions, and energy-related spending gives us direct feedback on how building design and campus operations can be improved. The goal is to figure out how to redirect available funds from paying utility bills to funding academic programs, then apply that knowledge on other campuses.”
Such knowledge has inspired a new wave of higher education buildings designed to educate, perform, and cool:
Designed to Educate: Interactive building signage can be used to showcase installed green technologies and to teach building occupants about the impact they have on building energy efficiency. Vujovic said, “Changing the institutional culture is the most effective way to achieve deep energy efficiency on any campus.” For instance, signs at Joliet Junior College’s Campus Center point at daylight harvesting and a geothermal well system that help reduce building energy needs. Even as one approaches the campus’s new “front door,” the site’s geothermal “greenway” is a sign to the community of the college’s commitment to sustainability.
Design to Perform: To be effective, sustainability goals and future energy needs assessment are integrated straight into the facilities master plan. The College of Lake County’s vision included a bold 10-year sustainable master plan targeting systematic reduction of energy use on campus. Sronkoski said, “A campus-wide geothermal field and loop, LED lighting, and high-efficiency mechanical and electrical systems were considered at the very beginning of our planning process.”
Designed to Cool: The next level of sustainable campus master planning focuses on climate action, systematic reduction of institutional carbon footprint, and increased resiliency. Vujovic said, “This is a great opportunity to demonstrate the institution’s leadership in sustainability, since the climate commitment is typically signed by the college’s or the university’s president.”
Improved Resilience Preps for Future Challenges
A variety of factors beyond the institution’s control can impede the consistent delivery of its educational programs. What happens, for instance, when a storm causes a regional power outage? Or what if a state reaches a budget impasse?
Sronkoski and Vujovic will also discuss how adding resilience into sustainable campus plans helps prepare colleges and universities for such possibilities. The institution then has strategies to protect it from outside influences that might threaten the college’s ability to deliver quality education.
A recent third-party master plan for Moraine Valley Community College included a special climate action plan component produced by Legat’s sustainability and energy team. Vujovic said, “It showed great foresight and leadership by the college’s president to consider addressing climate action and resiliency in addition to traditional master planning.”
Sronkoski and Vujovic set out for Philly eager to share with colleagues tips for building stronger sustainable master plans. Sronkoski sums it up: “We are seeing increased client interest in climate action and resiliency in higher education, so there is a greater need to improve our profession’s understanding of these issues”.
The presentation takes place in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Room 204AB on May 19th. Get more information about the AIA Convention 2016.
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