As Generation Z enters college age, the issue of environmental impact and sustainability is more top-of-mind than ever. Many historic colleges and universities are investing in costly new renovation and restoration projects to meet the demands of green construction and sustainability.
But why? FacilitiesNet outlines the importance of green construction for colleges and universities.
The importance of Green Construction
The Human Experience
When it comes to fostering a community- and success-oriented environment that will attract and retain the most coveted student talent, campus planners must create spaces that encourage learning, foster collaboration, and focus on the human experience. Traditionally, higher education has been geared toward the needs of the professor and the institution at large. Now, the focus is shifting to the needs of the student. Instead of students having to figure out how their new campus works, the institution can design the campus to achieve the highest possible success for a student. This is achieved through design elements centered around the student experience and a new approach to student space.
A prime example of this paradigm shift is the reimagining of the modern classroom. The traditional classroom is being flipped on its head and replaced by more student-focused learning environments. Communal spaces found on college campuses, such as libraries and dormitories, are becoming even more collaborative, with shared areas designed to foster dialogue and learning between those who live and work there. When walking into a modern college campus, the institution’s design makes it clear that most learning does indeed occur outside of the classroom — especially in the living-learning hybrid of the university experience.
Green is critical
The importance of sustainability in this new paradigm cannot be overstated. As issues of climate change loom, implementing green solutions into buildings, particularly on college campuses, is an effective strategy for increasing the lifespan of buildings and outdoor spaces. By using sustainable elements to spark creativity inside and outside the classroom, universities can influence how students learn and teachers teach while decreasing the institution’s negative impact on the environment. A more environmentally focused campus ensures stimulation for its student body from an intellectual, social, and civil perspective.
Generally speaking, universities are moving toward sustainable design for their campuses as it is a better choice from a long-term operational perspective. Universities are always thinking about legacy. Buildings are one of the key ways universities maintain this legacy-focused perspective. The goal is to make sure that campus structures will last and become as iconic as the institution itself. As a result, typical approaches to university design will already lean toward sustainable practices when it comes to planning parking and bicycle and pedestrian access. Universities already seek out durable materials that are designed to stand the test of time as well as high-traffic use. Sustainable elements that are just now entering the consciousness of other companies and organizations are already the norm for institutions of higher education.
How to Achieve Green Construction and Sustainability
Demand for greener buildings and focus on student comfort doesn’t mean new construction. Renovation allows buildings to be updated to meet modern standards while also having a better impact on the environment. A study of buildings in Portland, Phoenix, Chicago, and Atlanta revealed that contrary to popular belief, the benefits of reusing and renovating buildings outweighed the benefits of constructing new energy-efficient structures. According to the study, a new building that is 30% more efficient than the average building takes 10 to 80 years to overcome the negative climate change impacts resulting from construction. In other words, the process of making a building “greener” can be “greener” by re-using existing assets instead of starting from scratch.
At St. Cloud Window we make it possible re-use existing buildings to their full potential by:
- Replicating historic window profiles with custom, energy-efficiency, high-performance, aluminum windows.
- Using aluminum extrusions that are comprised of more than 70% recycled aluminum.
- Fully recycling all ‘cut off’ materials left over from fabrication.
Virtually every component used in St. Cloud Window products can be recycled beyond their OEM design.
For more ways to maximize your window requirements, check out our guide to choosing the right high-efficiency windows. High-efficiency windows can increase overall sustainability.
At St. Cloud Window we know every project begins with a challenge or an idea of what a building might be. We bring that vision to life with our distinctive design aesthetics, precision performance, and design-to-delivery support. Learn more about how our products can deliver on your design objectives and site requirements here. Then, check out our full line of historic replica and acoustic window products, and get in touch for more details about any of our high-performing commercial window products.