Environmentally speaking, students want Marshall Center to be ‘green’

Being green isn’t easy, and it isn’t very cheap, either. That’s the main problem presented to the Phyllis P. Marshall Center Director, Joe Synovec.

“Based on what our architects are telling us, it is a 1 to 4 percent additional cost,” he said, “We can’t afford the $500,000 to $1,000,000 extra to get that certification process completed.”

An officially “green” building means it has been certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which assesses whether buildings meet specific standards of high performance and sustainability. These could include water-efficient landscaping, ample bicycle storage, and changing rooms to promote walking or bicycling to campus and increasing the amount of daylight entering the building, among others.

Synovec said he wants a green building, but does not feel certification is worth the extra dollar.

But some students feel the Marshall Center could add green features without having to pay to become LEED certified.

“While it would be great to be certified, I know that it’s initially expensive,” said Kyle Hirvela, president of the Student Environmental Association. “I think that it’s more important to have the characteristics of a green, environmentally-safe building than it is to be certified.”

According to Hirvela, LEED certification would draw attention to the campus and pay off in the long run. He said LEED-certified buildings use less power and energy. However, his main concern is assuring the new building will be green.

In the early planning stages for the new student union, SEA made an effort to support and explain why they want the new Marshall Center to be environmentally friendly and energy efficient. They also petitioned to convince officials that other students are behind the endeavor.

Laura Bedinger, a graduate student who has been trying to convince USF faculty and students that LEED certification is extremely important, spoke to an architect from Gould Evans at Friday’s meeting of the Marshall Center Board of Associates, an advisory group that consists of students, faculty and staff. They meet to discuss policies and procedures, as well as new ideas for the center. Bedinger said the basic certification cost estimate she received from a Gould Evans architect was $480,000, and administrators are concerned about where that money would come from.

“The board did not reach a resolution, so now the issue has been left hanging with both the (Student Government) senate and the BOA,” she said.

Her presentations include what it means to be green, why the Marshall Center should be built for certification and how being certified will benefit USF. She said certification will bring recognition to the school, get students excited about helping the environment and provide a healthier atmosphere for everyone at USF. She has worked with SEA in the past, but they have not spoken this semester.

Synovec listed off some green characteristics that he and the architects will work to incorporate into the new building. These include using recyclable carpets and tiles, positioning the building to take advantage of the sunlight and installing energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.

“There are probably a million other things that the architects will come up with,” he said. “We are very sensitive to this issue – and while certification is something nice to put on the wall, we can’t afford that piece of paper. It’s just a matter of money.”

Certified or not certified, SEA believes that the greener the Marshall Center is, the better.

“Colleges are about the future,” Hirvela said. “They are about teaching the next generation so that we can live better. What could be better than supporting the Earth and teaching our next generation how to do it?”

Hirvela plans to meet with Marshall Center Director Guy Conway in the near future to press the issue of having green features in the building.

Bedinger said she plans to meet with Bruce Coull, the dean of the School of Environment at the University of South Carolina. Coull is leading USC’s effort to build more environmentally sound buildings, including the West Quad dormitory which recently opened. The West Quad received Silver LEED Certification.

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