How green is our Hicks? Let me count the ways.

By Homecoming, when the College dedicates it, the Weimer K. Hicks Student Center is expected to have received certification at the silver level in the "New Construction" category of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)--a thorough, painstaking, and ongoing measure of "greenness," expressed in credits.

"It requires significant effort and investment in the design and construction phases to achieve enough credits for silver certification," says Paul Manstrom, Director of Facilities Management. A LEED-certified Hicks is just one example of the College's sundry sustainability efforts.

How green is our Hicks? Let's count the credits.

First, the building has optimal energy efficiency. "It's insulated to the hilt," says Manstrom. "All the windows were changed out with more energy efficient replacements. And the duct and air handling was designed to minimize energy use."

Because the building is now disconnected from the College's central steam plant, the loss of steam heat piped beneath the Quad has been eliminated. And special technology allows the building's water to be heated on a strictly as-needed basis.

According to Manstrom, Michigan's buildings energy code was set to a 1999 standard. LEED certification mandates compliance with a much stricter 2004 update of that code. "And this building's energy use will be 17 percent more efficient than that second standard," says Manstrom.

Forty percent of what little electrical energy the building does use will be "green" power. "For this portion of our energy needs we will pay a premium to subsidize our supplier's purchase of energy derived from wind power and other sources besides coal and oil," says Manstrom.

Second is the building's water efficiency. "Thirty-eight percent more efficient than code requirements," says Manstrom, a result due primarily to water saving devices.
"Faucets and toilets are motion activated, and the urinals are all waterless," he adds.

Many green credits accrued from construction processes. More than 90 percent (by weight) of all the building's demolition and construction waste (which totaled more than 2,500 tons) was diverted from landfills! "In other words, we built in a way that recycled more than 2,200 tons of waste," says Manstrom.

And much of the construction materials derives from recycled materials. The new roof, for example, may look like slate, but it's actually made from recycled tires. The flooring material in the entryway--Arcus Atrium--consists of recycled glass, as beautiful as it is "green."

LEED credits also were awarded for the use of materials--paint, carpet glue, and more--that emit low quantities of volatile organic compounds. The building's greenness is reflected in its use of rapidly renewable resources. Cork flooring, for example, comes from tree bark that regenerates within 10 years--a LEED credit. The vinyl-like floor in the Health Center is actually a wood-based product, and its source also regenerates within 10 years.

Lyptus wood is the source for the building's trim, wall panels, and columns, and its regenerative window is 15 years, too long for LEED silver credit, but a short renewable time span nonetheless.

The building is free of ozone-depleting hydrochloroflorocarbons (HCFCs) and CFCs. Drinking fountains are not refrigerated, which saves energy costs as well. According to Manstrom, all drinking fountains
A LEED-certified Hicks is just one example of the College's sundry sustainability efforts.
on campus will eventually make this conversion, an example of the green momentum that will radiate from the Hicks Center.

Hicks also is smoke free, which keeps the air inside cleaner and reduces ventilation energy costs.

The building is green in subtle ways as well. To encourage green transit, the parking lots provide prime space for alternative-fuel vehicles. Bicycle parking, changing rooms, showers, and two bus stops are close enough to the space to garner LEED credits.

"Those factors we are fortunate to enjoy because of the building's location," says Manstrom. "We also earned credits because we re-used 75 percent of the building's exterior structure rather than tearing it down to start new."

Because LEED credits the close proximity of an open space that is equal in size to the footprint of the new construction, the Quadrangle just outside the front door contributed to the greenness of the building. As does the Center's site in an urban area, a LEED requirement designed to reduce ex-urban sprawl.

OK, OK, examples of the luck of location. But the real-time and comprehensive metering throughout the building is a definite "walk the talk."

"We're able to monitor our air quality and test to ensure that our energy and water efficiencies are real and lasting," says Manstrom.

And sufficient building space has been allocated for--what else?--recycling collection and storage. Manstrom is a monitor himself. He's undertaken the training and passed the certification test to become and an accredited LEED professional. Call him the "Green Lantern." Lux esto! He's another reason that the momentum generated by the reconstruction of Hicks Center will continue to shine across the entire campus.

Back to Front Page

Add Your Comment

Please give us your name (required) and class year if applicable

Email (required but not shared)

Please enter the letters and/or numbers appearing below