Eckert: Hidden in its walls, technology keeps TVUC green

Student Mind


Kushagra Gupta/Observer

The food court in the Tinkham Veale University Center. What is not apparent to students is the hidden technology that makes the building energy efficient.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Observer’s recent article, “The view from the green roof.”

The Tinkham Veale University Center (TVUC) is more than just a heated walkway in the winter and a cooled one in the summer. The TVUC is a great place to grab a bite to eat, meet with friends or professors or just hangout and study. As I found out, those amenities are only what the building appears to be on the surface.

The TVUC has been equipped with all sorts of different technology to keep its carbon footprint small, if not negative. Its green roof (literally) is just one great example of how it stays sustainable.

The green roof is full of tiny plants in the cactus family that help heat the building in the winter, and cool it during summer. These plants also collect water, and this helps insulate the building and keep the harsher temperatures out.

Since many of these components are hidden, some students on campus don’t appreciate how much the university does to improve its sustainability. There have been several new projects that have been very sustainable such as the Apartments at 1576 in the North Residential Village, which also have green roofs.

Other aspects of the TVUC help keep it green, including its solar panels. The solar panels are also out of sight on the roof. This is the ideal location for them help to power the building and the excess is sent to the university’s power grid. Hidden, they are one of TVUC’s behind-the-scenes green initiatives.

Another feature, perhaps the most concealed, is the geothermal heating and cooling system. Geothermal power is created by pumping water underground and actually using the Earth’s constant temperature to heat water which then heats the building. The same happens in the summer. The water is pumped and cooled compared to the outside temperature and then cools the building.

All of these things help keep the TVUC and campus greener. The university has been taking a lot of steps to help keep the university and the city cleaner and more sustainable.

In recent and coming years the city is also taking steps to become greener as we approach the 50th anniversary of the infamous Cuyahoga River fire.

The environment is something many people take for granted, and I think these are great ways to try to stay green.

Brian Eckert is a first-year finance and economics double major.