Saying you will cap energy consumption is so vogue right now, but doing it while adding over 1 million square feet of space in a 10-year plan means the University of Oregon will get super efficient while backing up its new pledge. And don’t forget that the university will spend plenty of money along the way in what has been hailed as the first pledge of its kind nationally on a college campus.
This won’t be some empty pledge that doesn’t need backing up as the Eugene, Ore., institution hasn’t exactly been shy about flashy new buildings recently, especially buoyed by the seemingly limitless pocketbooks of Nike founder Phil Knight. In the last two years, Oregon added a new acclaimed athlete education center, the Jaqua Academic Center, and opened a new basketball arena, all while continuing further building expansion that includes everything from more athletic facilities to science buildings. Check out my earlier blog post about continued athletic-related construction on campus.
Steve Mital, the school’s sustainability coordinator (I wonder how many schools even have this position), tells the Eugene Register-Guard that the new pledge could cost $10 million in higher construction expenses and performance upgrades to older buildings, all in an effort to keep overall campus consumption no higher than where it is now.
With the plan debuted in the school’s Oregon Model for Sustainable Development, the institution says that new buildings must pencil out as 35 percent more efficient than the current Oregon Energy Code requirements. Already, Oregon’s state-owned buildings must prove 20 percent more efficient than code, so Oregon has taken it another step. Also, the pledge declares that all new buildings—except those already underway—will need to meet LEED Gold, improving on the LEED Silver standard already in place on campus.
And while limiting the consumption of new buildings is obviously a must, the entire aging sector of the school’s infrastructure must get retrofitted to offset new construction, requiring campus planners to look at the cohesive unit of buildings during planning phases, not just how one building stands alone.
To not let energy consumption sit as the only factor in the model, the campus also has new plans to treat stormwater and educate the public about sustainability efforts.
While Knight will undoubtedly help foot the bill for some of the construction on campus, he isn’t the only benefactor to the school. And he doesn’t pay for everything at Oregon (except maybe all those fancy jerseys the football team dons). To help offset the costs for the new requirements, new building projects must put 10 percent of the cost to implement energy savings measures in existing buildings into the new Central Energy Fund, the school says.
Not only will Oregon’s new effort continue to improve the caliber of design and construction for future campus buildings, but it should also look to improve already existing infrastructure.