Zumberge Hall receives LEED certification

GVL / Marissa Dillon

GVL / Marissa Dillon

Duane Emery

Grand Valley State University has reached another milestone on the path to sustainability. The recently renovated Zumberge Hall has earned LEED silver status by the U.S. Green Building Council.

With this latest achievement, GVSU continues to grow its identity as a leader among Michigan universities in the effort toward energy efficiency and green practices.

With a new library in place, designed from the ground up to be sustainable, the door was opened for the Zumberge library to be reinvented. Not only were the functions of the building re-imagined, but the processes within the building are all new as well. The construction began in May 2013 and was completed this June.

“The existing building was renovated in its entirety,” said James Moyer, the associate vice president for facilities planning. “The new electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems were designed to meet or exceed current efficiency standards.” he said.

Other improvements made to the building include new windows, new interior finishes, new storm water systems and new landscaping. All of these additions play a part toward becoming LEED certified, which is based on several factors such as sustainability, efficiency and energy use among others.

According to Moyer, each building project is unique and requires the proper planning and materials in order for the desired results. However, proper continued operating procedures are also essential.

Currently, GVSU has 19 LEED certified buildings. With Zumberge Hall attaining silver status, the university now has seven buildings that are rated silver, and six are rated as gold. The Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons is the only platinum rated building and holds the distinction of being the first library in Michigan to hold platinum status.

“There are a lot of opportunities to be more sustainable, especially on campus,” said Yumiko Jakobcic, the campus sustainability coordinator at the Office of Sustainability Practices. “Take a minute to study the signs at the waste sorting stations, or hop on the bus instead of driving.”

In this spirit of progress, two other buildings are currently in the certification process and two new buildings are being constructed under LEED standards.

“Lower operating costs translate into lower tuition,” Moyer said. “The bulk of the operating budget comes from tuition dollars. Reducing the cost to operate has a very direct impact on tuition.”

Students aren’t the only ones who benefit from energy efficiency, however.

“It’s important to think sustainably because the choices we make today will affect our future,” Jakobcic said. “It is important for us to be conscious of our ecological footprint.”

The university’s sustainability efforts began in 1990 with the institution of a recycling program, with more formal efforts beginning in 2004 and progressing since then, Jakobcic said.

“We’re happy to see that sustainability is embedded in many activities and efforts across campus,” Jakobcic said.

For more information about the sustainability program and how to get involved, go to www.gvsu.edu/sustainability.

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