Growing a greener U

The University should continue its award-winning green streak.

The U.S. Green Building Council recently granted the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification to TCF Stadium. The rating system scores construction on building materials and waste, energy and water usage, and storm water management, among many other factors. The stadium qualified by using 90% locally-fabricated, recycled steel, recycling 98% of construction waste, reducing water use, and building a comprehensive storm water management system, to filter runoff before releasing it into the Mississippi River. Furthermore, the administration is planning to pursue LEED certification for the new Science Teaching and Student Services Building, currently under construction on the east bank. These are very welcome developments and the University deserves praise for its efforts, but such official recognition should not be an end in itself. Administration should intensify its less-heralded energy conservation efforts in existing buildings throughout campus. Current efforts include overhauling each buildingâÄôs heating system every five years in order to maintain efficiency and launching an extensive public awareness campaign. More can and should be done, like placing occupancy sensors in classrooms and labs to automatically turn off lights and computers. Real-time usage monitoring for each department and dorm floor could encourage bottom-up energy efficiency. Expanding the employee suggestion box to include students could shave more money off the UniversityâÄôs $45 million annual electrical bill. In an era of state budget cuts and rising tuition, efficiency savings are an absolute imperative.