Lessons from Green Universities – March 16, 2005

March 16, 2005

Thanks to Eva Hanhardt, Jessica Wooliams and Paul Stoller for their discussion of green initiatives at various institutions. We’d also like to thank our hosts at Pratt Institute, Manhattan campus. FORUM SUMMARY “Advocate, educate, and act” “Start with the low hanging fruit and build on it.” “Taking it beyond compliance to environmental excellence” “Buildings and landscape should do more; the systems should do less.” “The process by which you arrive at results is critical.” Greening an office, an organization, an institution, a government requires changes that can seem daunting. It requires changing the way it views everyday tasks and the way it does business. It requires system change. Universities around the country are beginning to change the system with new building and purchasing practices, new courses, and student involvement. The speakers of Greenhome NYC’s March forum described the strategies and programs universities are employing to make their campuses more sustainable. Eva Hanhardt, Visiting Assistant Professor, Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment at Pratt Institute, along with her colleagues Tony Gelber, Director, Physical Plant, and Samara Swantson, Visiting Assistant Professor, outlined Pratt’s Initiatives, which focus on the Brooklyn campus and include architectural courses, a Masters in Environmental Planning, class on planning for sustainable campus, studio projects, and the campus-wide Sustainable Pratt organization. Mr. Gelber laid out the three important actions necessary to green the campus: ADVOCATE, EDUCATE, and ACT. “Greening is change,” Mr. Gelber states. To achieve this change, you must first: Make little green steps Green the people Green the process Focus on bricks and mortar Examples of these actions at Pratt include Xeriscaping passive areas of the campus and experimenting with organic products on some parts; working towards a LEED certification for a building interior; and engaging both faculty and students on greening at monthly meetings where participants strategize on how to identify, interpret, inspire, and incorporate green into the campus. In 2000, Pratt offered a class entitled Green Campus 2000. This class analyzed the campus’ environmental footprint, made comparisons to other universities, evaluated the findings, and offered recommendations and implementation strategies to green the campus. For example, one product of the course was a handbook on safe use of art materials. This course will now be offered each semester and will continue to take the approach of identifying the low hanging fruit and build on this. Students and faculty of Green Campus 2000 toured the campus to identify the low hanging fruit. Some of their recommendations, some of which have been implemented included energy audits, improvement in performance of building envelopes, identification of water leaks, upgrades of heating and cooling systems, green purchasing section in campus bookstore, student proposed procurement policy, green campus curriculum, and a new masters program. The Pratt website (www.pratt.edu) will list the new courses including a new LEED accreditation course opened to people outside of Pratt. Jessica Woolliams from Harvard Green Campus Initiative outlined the five components of the Ivy League university’s green strategy. The Initiative was born out of interest from the faculty to move sustainability beyond the discussions of environmental issues to practical and actual projects. Last fall, Harvard’s President approved the strategy, allowing it to apply to Harvard’s design, construction, maintenance, and operations, even on the new Alston campus. The strategy includes: Green buildings Behavior change Loan fund Renewable energy Institutional change GREEN BUILDINGS Currently, Harvard has 2 LEED buildings. One is the 40,000 square foot landmark Sears building, which was a pilot for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Commercial Interiors. The other is a large dorm. There are six more LEED buildings in the pipeline including an office, laboratories (which on average consume 5 times the energy of an office), and other building types. Harvard Business School, as well as other departments, is working with the Initiative to further its goals. BEHAVIOR CHANGE The Initiative presently has four programs geared towards behavior change. Educate students to turn off their computers when not in use. When left on, it costs on average $120 per computer per year to power a computer; however, when the power is only left on during use. That cost drops to $20 per computer each year; a savings of $100 per student, which really adds up when one takes into account the number of students on campus. Pay students for a couple of hours a week in undergraduate dorms to educate students and building managers on energy efficiency. Foster peer-to-peer education of building managers. Harvard has 400 buildings in all with plenty of experienced building managers from whom others can learn. They have the expertise in best environmental practices. Hold an undergraduate poster contest. Students are invited to develop and submit cartoons about energy awareness. This year there were 50 entries. LOAN FUND Harvard has a $3 million revolving loan fund from the Office of the President. Projects with a five-year or less payback are eligible for the loan. Solar panels are one exception; although they have a much longer payback, they are still eligible. In fact, the Business School currently has plans to install an array in Shad Hall. RENEWABLE ENERGY As mentioned above, the Business School is installing solar panels on its campus. It also has plans to purchase RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates). RECs allow an electricity consumer to purchase the environmental attributes of renewable energy generated elsewhere. The Initiative recently announced a $100,000 fund to purchase RECs and explore more renewable options on campus. Paul Stoller, Director at Atelier Ten, began his presentation identifying the big picture problem with greening large institutions. Similar to an oil tanker in the middle of an ocean, unlike a smaller boat, it takes a lot of time and will to turn around (or turn towards more sustainable practices). There’s a time-scale issue. Another difficulty with sustainable development is it is hard to define and does not tell us what to do in buildings. Atelier Ten offers the following sustainability principle for its institutional clients: Buildings and landscape should do more; the systems should do less. The challenge of architecture is that inside climate differs from outside conditions. Nature provides great examples on how to overcome this disparity. For example, termites build mounts that have passive solar gates. Vernacular architecture, such as igloos, grass huts, and verandas in Charleston, is also very informative, as it was designed before many of today’s mechanical systems were in use. They are climate responsive. Even older NYC buildings, such as the Flat Iron building and Madison Square Hotel offer lessons with their sunshades on each window, design to allow breezes, louvers for daylight. The process by which you arrive at results in critical. You need to first set goals for what the building needs to do. The goal setting process leads to strategies to reach those goals and targets for performance, which then leads to the design strategies. For example, if the goal is to have a carbon neutral building, the target is to reduce demand for energy from fossil fuels and the strategy is to use energy efficient systems and to maximize the use of renewables on site. Paul used a project he worked on at Yale University to exemplify the process used to achieve the goal of more sustainable buildings. Atelier Ten was retained in 2001 to work on the Engineering Research Building, an energy intensive laboratory. (One fume hood uses as much energy as a 200,000 square foot residential house.) PROCESS FOR DESIGNING THE LABORATORY RENOVATION AT YALE Ask what does it mean to be a sustainable laboratory. Do site, wind, light, and climate analysis and match programming with the specifics of the site. Evaluate alternatives for basic heat recovery and other building needs Quantify costs and benefits. When possible, aim for a payback of two years. Following this evaluative process, the team was able to set new standards based on better information. They were able to start incorporating these lessons into the university’s standards. For example, Yale now plans around daylight for new buildings. With precedents, expectations continue to grow for each new project. The university currently has plans for its Crowne Hall to achieve a gold or platinum LEED rating. The biggest challenge campuses face is what to do with existing buildings, especially when the uses change. SPEAKER BIOS Eva Hanhardt is Senior Advisor to the Planning Center at the Municipal Arts Society, having previously served as co-director and director of the Planning Center and co-director of the ImagineNY project. The ImagineNY project provided for broad public participation on New York City’s recovery and rebuilding after the tragedy of 9/11. The mission of the Planning Center is to support community-based planning in low and moderate-income communities in New York City. The Planning Center has hosted numerous exhibits and forums on planning, architecture and environmental topics such as community-based planning, brownfield redevelopment, and environmental education and sustainable design. Ms. Hanhardt came to the Municipal Art Society from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, where she was Director of the Environmental Economic Development Assistance Unit and of the Greenpoint/Williamsburg Environmental Benefits Program. In addition, Ms. Hanhardt worked for many years as a planner for the New York City Department of City Planning, most recently with the Waterfront Division, where she was one of the principal authors of the Comprehensive Waterfront Plan and Waterfront Zoning Text. She was the founding Executive Director of the Salvadori Educational Center on the Built Environment and has held planning positions at the New York City Department of Ports and Trade and the Community Service Society. Ms. Hanhardt has lectured and taught at a number of universities and is currently an adjunct professor of urban and environmental planning at Pratt Institute’s Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment and at Hunter College Department of Urban Affairs and PLanning. Ms. Hanhardt also serves on the Boards of New Partners for Community Revitalization, the Urban Agenda, NewYork 2050 and Green Ground Zero. Jessica Woolliams has been working in the area of environmental policy, project management and program development since 1999. She worked several years as a green building consultant in British Columbia, Canada, developing guidelines for green building development for the University of British Columbia, and contributing to the development of the Province of British Columbia’s Green Buildings BC (GBBC) program. For GBBC she developed performance targets and best practices guides; developed a series of case studies; provided education and outreach; identified barriers and opportunities for long term policy and developed the “Green Checklist” used by all new capital projects. See www.greenbuildingsbc.com for more information. She has published numerous papers and reports for civic and academic purposes, including a selection entitled: “Designing Cities and Buildings As If They Were Ethical Choices” published by Oxford U Press (2001). Her current work at the Longwood Medical Campus has includes managing the Longwood Computer Energy Reduction Program; purchasing renewable electricity for two buildings on the Longwood campus; and LEED certification of a HSPH building. She has a Masters Degree in Urban Planning and a Bachelors Degree in English Literature and Urban Geography from British Columbia, as well as a diploma in Building Technology from BCIT. Paul Stoller is an associate director of atelier ten and manages the New York office. Having previously worked for atelier ten in London, he is experienced in the design of low energy buildings and the engineering of high performance systems. Specialist knowledge includes daylight design, radiant conditioning systems, innovative ventilation systems, and active thermal mass buildings. Currently teaching core courses on environmental design and building services at the Yale University School of Architecture, Paul also serves as a visiting lecturer at the Rural Studio at Auburn University and frequently speaks on environmental design for other architecture schools, practices, and conferences. Paul is a LEED Accredited Design Professional, and holds a B.S. and an M.A. in architectural history from the University of Wisconsin, and an M.Arch from Yale University.