Hands-On Experience in Sustainability

As incubators of fresh thinking, colleges and universities form a perfect proving ground for commercial real estate’s latest “it” initiative: green and sustainable building. In fact, as Goshow Architects principal Eric Goshow noted, design and education go hand in hand. “Sustainable design is key in providing healthy living and learning environments.” His firm recently designed a 600-bed residence hall and student activity center for Stony Brook University in New York. Scheduled for fall 2009 occupancy, the facility is slated for LEED gold certification.As colleges attract new students and outgrow their existing facilities, green building is taking on an increasingly important role, infiltrating classrooms and curricula. The 10 engineering students who live in Duke University’s Home Depot Smart Home, which is LEED platinum rated, conduct sustainability experiments and test green technology. The home features rainwater harvesting, a vegetative roof, photovoltaic water-heating systems, high-efficiency lighting and controls and permeable pavement, according to Jeff Leahy, project manager for Bovis Lend Lease, a general contractor that helped build the dormitory.And at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, students who are enrolled in a course called Electrical, Mechanical Systems in Building & LEED are getting real-world instruction from Jamie Qualk, a director for engineering and construction firm Smith Seckman Reid Inc. who worked on the school’s new freshman residential quadrangle, Peabody Commons.The quad includes a new dining center, four new dormitories and two renovated dormitories, all of which are seeking LEED certification. The dining hall, which has already earned LEED gold certification, features a reflective roof to reduce the heat load from the sun, recycled content and water-conserving technology.