The new policy builds upon an existing U-M commitment to exceed by 30 percent a widely recognized energy efficiency standard, giving the university one of the most rigorous construction standards among higher education institutions in the nation.
“Adopting this standard demonstrates our deep commitment to sustainable campus operations, complementing our educational and research programs in this area,” said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman, who last fall launched a campus-wide initiative to significantly expand the university’s sustainability efforts in education, research, operations and engagement. “We must practice what we preach.”
LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a standard created by the U.S. Green Building Council. The USGBC provides independent third-party certification that takes into account, among other items, water efficiency, indoor air quality, site selection (such as proximity to existing infrastructure and mass transit), use of sustainable materials in construction (such as sustainably grown and recycled products), and energy reduction. LEED offers four categories: certified, silver, gold and platinum, based on a point system.
U-M buildings that have already achieved LEED certification include the Gold LEED Dana Building, home of the School of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Silver LEED Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Two projects under construction, the Mott Children’s and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospitals Replacement Project and a new Law School academic building are on track for LEED certification.
U-M’s new LEED policy builds upon a history of sustainable features already part of its standard design guidelines and is in addition to the ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007+30 standard it adopted in 2009, which mandates that major projects be 30 percent more energy efficient than the nationally recognized standard set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers. This standard requires a range of energy conservation measures, such as insulation, motion sensors and infrared scanning, to detect energy leaks.
“This new commitment builds on a long history of accomplishment in sustainability on the campus,” said Terry Alexander, executive director of campus sustainability, who oversees the implementation and expansion of efforts related to the sustainability of campus operations. “Moving forward, we are setting even more aggressive goals.”
In the 1960s, U-M’s Central Power Plant became one of the first university operations in the nation to convert from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas using co-generation technology. The plant produces just one-sixth of the greenhouse gases of a coal-fired plant and is approximately 80 percent efficient in fuel use. Other measures currently under way have driven down per capita energy consumption by 19 percent in the last five years.
In an effort to take sustainability commitments to a new level, U-M launched the Campus Sustainability Integrated Assessment earlier this year. This major project has teams of students, faculty and operations professionals evaluating data from across campus and making recommendations that address seven key areas: buildings, energy, transportation, land and water, food and waste, purchased goods and behavior change.
“This integrated assessment will give us a detailed and comprehensive look at our operations, allowing the university to set ambitious goals that take into account interrelationships across these functions,” said Professor Donald Scavia, special counsel to the U-M president for sustainability. “We also believe this approach can serve as a model for other organizations.”
The integrated assessment is being conducted as part of the U-M Sustainability Initiative, a major university-wide priority jointly coordinated by Alexander and Scavia to take sustainability to a new level by effectively engaging stakeholders in efforts to “green” the campus, generate groundbreaking research, and prepare the next generation of leaders to help solve the world’s sustainability problems. The initiative is overseen by an executive council of senior university executives led by President Coleman.
U-M Sustainability fosters a more sustainable world through collaborations across campus and beyond aimed at educating students, generating new knowledge and minimizing our environmental footprint.