New residence hall features only one part of campus sustainability initiative

Brian Sherman, Staff Reporter

Case Western Reserve University has seen a strong push for sustainability in recent construction projects on campus. From the LEED Silver certified Village at 115th to the planned building of a new residence hall on East 115th Street, the university is making significant efforts to be more green.

“As President Snyder is a signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, implementing sustainable options and solutions is a high priority when planning new developments for the university,” said Joanne Brown, director of the Department of Planning, Design and Construction.

Such sustainable options have ranged from the large-scale sustainable options implemented in the upcoming residence hall, which was reported in last week’s issue of The Observer, to reducing the usage of volatile organic compounds in construction and renovation. In addition, all new buildings on campus are required to be certified as LEED Silver or better.

When investigating these options, the department found that there would be no additional cost to accommodate being sustainable in new construction. Using recycled construction materials and nonvolatile compounds helps to reduce expenses on both construction and long-term maintenance of the building over its life cycle. In addition, designing more efficient mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems in the interior of the building helps to reduce long-term energy costs and is easier to implement earlier in the design process.

“The overall availability of green materials and sustainable methodologies adopted by contractors has lowered the cost of sustainable options in recent years,” explained Brown. “The nature of the business has changed.”

As part of the university’s Climate Action Plan, which has an ultimate goal of making CWRU a carbon-neutral campus, the Planning, Design and Construction department took steps in other recent renovations and constructions on campus. For example, the recent renovation of the first and second floors of Tomlinson Hall allowed the university to retrofit more sustainable lighting, plumbing and mechanical options into the building, and the nearly complete Tinkham Veale University Center has recently been certified as LEED Gold thanks to its green roofing and energy efficient double-curtain wall.

“We have a history of commitment to sustainability,” said Brown. “Since the successful construction of the Village at 115th, we have moved forward with our action plan and have been working with the Office of Sustainability to create a greener campus.”

Officials from the Office of Sustainability were unavailable for comment as of press time.