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September 21, 2023

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Building an environmentally conscious replacement

Will it be green enough?

That’s a question some students are asking about a new building set to replace and expand upon the former Saddlemire Student Services building.

The Wolfe Center, which will serve as the University’s collaborative art center, is expected to follow environmentally-conscious standards once it is completed.

The facility will adhere to some standards but the University will not seek LEED certification because of costs associated with a LEED supervisor and certification, said James McArthur, Director of Design and Construction.

LEED-certified buildings employ a number of techniques to reduce their environmental footprint. Reflective roofs, the use of recycled materials and low-flow laboratories can reduce the amount of water used by 30 percent. These are just some of the changes that can significantly reduce the building’s strain on the environment.

While the Wolfe Center will follow some of these standards, McArthur declined to say which would be implemented because the project is halted. In an interview yesterday, he also declined to comment on the reason for the break in construction.

“We will follow as many standards as possible but it (the Wolfe Center) won’t be certified,” McArthur said.

This decision has been disappointing to members of the campus Environmental Action Group, group president Jazmine Bennet said.

“I think it is kind of a cop-out that they will follow some standards but not others,” she said. “Maybe they get to say they are following standards but they are missing the most important ones.”

Growing interest in the environment has created a push for “greener” campuses.

The University of Cincinnati is the only Ohio college to earn LEED certification, with three certified buildings, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. Arizona State University is ranked among one of the few institutions to gain the rank of “platinum” certification. Ray Tena, associate director of engineering at ASU, argues even though the costs of LEED certification are initially higher, the savings of energy will outweigh the disadvantages of the price.

“We obviously save on our utility bill and we help the environment by reducing our carbon imprint,” Tena said.

“The benefit is significant, we build our buildings to last for 100 years so the better we build them and the more sustainable they are, the better it is for the university in the end.”

Bennet is hoping that the university will join the ranks of the universities who have already obtained LEED certification.

“I think if we were certified it could be such a huge step toward progress and it could be an amazing opportunity to highlight BG,” Bennet said.

But McArthur said the decision must come from University administrators.

“We will always be prepared to seek certification but it needs to come down from the University,” he said. “I think it is just a matter of time and progression before we are ordered to build something that will be certified.”

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