Framework for Green Buildings Taking Shape
October 22, 2009 – As Georgetown continues to develop its Main Campus with the new business school building, the Blue & Gray is going green by focusing on sustainable practices.
When the newest addition to the campus, the Rafik B. Hariri Building, opened its doors on Sept. 16, it marked the first time a Georgetown building became a candidate for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification as a green building.
The university featured its focus on sustainability during a Homecoming Weekend panel on a greener Georgetown.
A Model for the University
The LEED system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, evaluates a new building or renovation on criteria such as water and energy efficiency, waste reduction and open spaces for walking and physical activity. Georgetown has applied for the second highest rating, silver, for the Hariri Building.
“We were pretty far into the design process for the building when we suddenly realized we could do more to be environmentally responsible. That’s when we began making deliberate decisions that led us towards applying for LEED certification,” said Karen Frank, panelist and vice president for university facilities and student housing at Georgetown.
Because LEED also measures the environmental impact of the building during operation as well as construction, Frank notes that Georgetown has adopted a green cleaning program to eliminate use of strong chemicals that will adversely affect indoor air quality and has purchased certified green power for 100 percent of the Hariri Building’s anticipated needs.
“[The Hariri] Building can become a model for the rest of the university in terms of a holistic approach to sustainability on campus,” said panelist Jaime Van Mourik, higher education sector manager at the U.S. Green Building Council.
Students Help Georgetown Go Green
Van Mourik notes that sustainability efforts on campus are often grassroots by nature, bubbling up from a student body that is increasingly environmentally conscious and demands the same from their university (and eventually from their employers).
Students are actively involved in Georgetown’s green efforts through the Sustainability Advisory Group.
Michael Durante (B’10) said Georgetown has made great strides in environmental awareness in the four years he’s been on the Hilltop. Durante is a member of EcoAction, a student group that seeks to educate the campus community about environmental issues. Its home page urges visitors to “Bleed blue, wear gray - think green!”
“When I joined EcoAction my freshman year, it was a hobby group,” said Durante. “Every year since then, more students have become knowledgeable about environmental sustainability, they are beginning to see what Georgetown can do to improve our collective footprint and they want to get involved.
“Environmentalism isn’t a hobby anymore – it’s been integrated into every aspect of university life,” he added.