Augie is not “LEED”-ing in sustainability

Martha Tomesen

Augustana College is expanding its campus with an extension to Hanson Hall of Science and the new Knowlton Center for Innovation in Health, Wellness and Human Performance.  They have been making efforts to build in an environmentally sustainable way.
According to Dr. Michael Reisner, a member of the campus sustainability committee, an average building has a duration of 34 years. This makes the buildings’ functions for students long-lasting.
An important factor to be taken into consideration consideration in the construction progressis their impact on campus sustainability.
With the pressing climate change, campus sustainability plays an important factor in the construction of new on-campus buildings.
President Bahls signed the Illinois University Compact in 2010, promising to accomplish better sustainability on campus. All sustainability demands on the Compact have been checked off, which means Augustana should live up to the full standards of the Illinois University Compact and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). This, however, is not the case in the current campus expansion.
“The understanding was that we wanted to meet the standards for LEED, but we didn’t want to go through the added expenses trying to get it certified by LEED. But the understanding was we would still do our best to meet all the standards laid out in the LEED,’’Reisner said.
The Hanson extension will have energy from renewable sources such as exterior walls and windows, LED lighting and daylighting opportunities, though not a three percent rate as stated in the Illinois Sustainable University Compact.
Augustana’s Campus Sustainability Committee is supposed to be the main influence green buildings. The committee, however, is currently ineffective. Dr. Jeffrey Strasser, current chair of the Committee, is stepping down. The new chair has to be appointed by President Bahls, but there are no candidates as of today, mainly due to lack of recourses for the committee to make actual changes. The students who were a part of the committee have all graduated.
The Campus Sustainability Committee’s Environmental Plan was finalized in 2007.  Since then, climate change has become a much-increased problem since and no alterations in the Environmental Plan have yet gone through.
Augustana has received an $8 million-dollar challenge grant for the new Knowlton Center from the Austin E. Knowlton Foundation. This money is not seen as donated, according to Eric Lindberg, Trustee of the Austin E. Knowlton Foundation and Augustana College.
“To clarify, the Knowlton Foundation hasn’t ‘donated the money’ at this time but rather has made a commitment to fund the future health and wellness building and program, subject to a number of conditions including additional fundraising by the college and completion of more specific plans for the physical structure – and sustainability standards are among the topics to be resolved as that process moves forward,’’ Lindberg said.
In the construction process of the Knowtlon building, the committee has not been consulted on what these sustainability standards should include.
Dr. Jason Peters spoke out on the importance of green buildings on campus. “The main thing is new buildings have to be made with recourses that are still going to be available a 100 year from now, or even longer.’’
“Near as I can tell, we seem to think we can just go ahead and put up buildings as if the energy sources that run them will be available forever. And they aren’t,’’Peters said.