University to be First Designed on “Green Principles”

A new university campus in California will be the first in the country to be designed entirely on “green principles.”

ORINDA, California – John F. Kennedy University will achieve, “wherever possible, the integration of sustainable principles in the building of its new Concord campus, as well as its academic curriculum,” says president Charles Glasser. The goal is to maximize the use of green building materials throughout all aspects of design and construction, including campus furnishings, and to design the energy and water consumption needs using environmentally sensitive yet highly efficient methods. The campus will also strive for the highest possible rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy Efficient Design rating system, and will integrate the principles of sustainability into its curriculum. While a number of colleges and universities across the United States have completed sustainability construction practices in individual buildings, Glasser says JFKU will be the first in the country to construct an entire campus implementing Green Principles. The university will purchase a five-acre site in downtown Concord, next to the city’s rapid transit station, and will start construction early next year. “Once constructed, the new John F. Kennedy University in Concord will serve as a beacon of environmental sustainability throughout our community and throughout higher education in the nation,” says Glasser. Glasser and 30 other university presidents recently met at Oberlin College in Ohio to address the environmental and the challenges facing society. They were responding to a challenge from Thomas Kean of Drew University and former governor of New Jersey, who challenged his fellow presidents call to have “higher education provide the leadership to move society toward a more just and sustainable future.” That November meeting was hosted by Second Nature, a national nonprofit that helps colleges and universities make environmental sustainability a foundation for learning and for daily operations of their campuses. It was the first time since the 1990 Talloires Declaration of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future that higher education leaders had come together on these issues. The JFKU Board of Regents approved a resolution to integrate the principles of sustainability into the new campus. Glasser has been working with officials from the Rocky Mountain Institute and other organizations. The project “has the potential to have a significant impact far beyond the walls of the new buildings,” adds Glasser. While environmental sustainability is becoming widely embraced, it has only been used for individual buildings and the new campus will set the highest environmental standards on all buildings for the site. The technologies and materials to be used will enhance air quality, conserve energy, provide maximum natural and low impact lighting, and improve the work and study environments through the use of environmentally sensitive materials. The decision to go green will provide better health and productivity for students, faculty and staff on the campus, as well as reduce operating costs. The LEED Rating System is a set of standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council and intended to improve the environmental and economic performance of non-residential buildings. The system is widely used in the United States as a guide for green and sustainable design. “There may be a small increase in the overall cost of the project because of the desire to achieve as high a rating as possible,” officials concede. “When considering the impact of a green campus over the next 20 to 30 years, close to 90 percent of the aggregate expenditures will be related to people and approximately 10 percent will have been for the design and construction of the buildings. Thus, we believe that a slightly greater input up front is worthwhile to enhance the working environment for all who will use these buildings.” “Higher education can and should play a special role as we move away from the era of adversarial relationships on a wide variety of environmental issues and towards collaboration,” adds Glasser. “I am delighted that this university can make a contribution by playing a role in society’s efforts to be wise stewards of our dwindling natural resources.”

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