NAU's green buildings are student centered
"It's not easy being green." Perhaps not if you're made out of cloth and have buttons for eyes. But it's sure worth it if you're Northern Arizona University and you're building a campus for the future.

"Green" buildings are part of NAU's five- to 10-year construction and renovation plan to create academic and residential buildings for the 21st century.

"NAU already has an established reputation for its academic programs and research that center on issues related to the environment, particularly related to the Colorado Plateau where we live," NAU President John Haeger said. "It's only natural for the campus to reflect our commitment to an environmentally sensitive learning environment for our students."

This summer, NAU will begin groundbreaking on three new "green" buildings on the mountain campus: the Applied Research and Development building, the College of Business Administration and the engineering building. Other plans include the construction of apartment- and suite-style student housing that will replace outdated family housing on central campus.

More than $75 million is estimated for these construction projects. NAU will use state and federal funding, research infrastructure funding and grants for these construction and renovation projects.

"While we are remaining environmentally conscious, we're also improving our on-campus learning environment," Haeger said. "It's another way we can achieve a reputation as one of the top residential universities in the country."

NAU will use the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System throughout the design and construction process. The so-called LEED system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, is a nationally accepted certification standard for developing high-performance sustainable buildings. The rating system is divided into three levels: green is the first level, followed by gold and platinum.

NAU will seek a platinum rating from the Green Building Council for the new Applied Research and Development building. This would make NAU only the second university in the nation to have this highest LEED rating. The University of California-Santa Barbara is the other.

Going platinum
"It is hard enough to design a certified 'green' building but we want to take it to the next level and put NAU on the map," said David Cain, assistant vice president of Capital Assets and Services at NAU. "We're going platinum." This Applied Research and Development building has been tagged NAU's signature building, designed to support the campus master plan by consolidating and centralizing environmental programs on campus.

The groundbreaking for this building will begin in late August with an anticipated completion date in February 2006.

The cutting-edge facility will use sustainable technologies to minimize resource consumptions, using 60 percent less energy than a traditional office building. As a result, the building is expected to save $1 million in utilities over a 20-year period.

"The Applied Research and Development facility will be a teaching building that demonstrates sustainable features such as water conservation, alternative energy practices, and a design that takes advantage of natural light and natural ventilation," said Karan English, coordinator for NAU's Center for Sustainable Environments.

Some of the sustainable features in the ARD building include: innovative means for heating and cooling, passive solar glazing, the use of reclaimed-or gray-water and an atrium.

Throughout the facility, raised floors with circular ducts will provide continuous air flow, and the atrium will be a self-sufficient system providing shade and oxygen.

The passive solar glazing on the building's exterior will harness solar energy to provide electricity and heat to the facility. Reclaimed water, from a water supply system on campus, will be used for irrigation and flushing toilets.

The 60,000-square-foot facility will also incorporate special features to promote environmental education, applied research and community outreach.

"The design will provide an environment for collaboration among the users. Students will have an opportunity to see the systems demonstrated and monitor the success of the systems," English said. The Northern Arizona Technology and Business Incubator, a nonprofit small-business assistance program that will be housed in the ARD building, will provide services and expertise to accelerate the growth of start-up companies that have an emphasis on renewable energy, biotechnology and software.

The Center for Sustainable Environments and NAU's Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals also will share the space with outside government agencies such as the National Park Service and the U.S Geological Survey. The third floor of the building will be dedicated to the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics, a sophisticated research lab that will involve independent research for undergraduate and graduate students. "Students have been involved with the development of this building for the last two years and will continue to be a vital part of the Applied Research and Development facility," English said.

In July, NAU will break ground on another environmentally friendly building, the new College of Business Administration. NAU will be seeking a green certification and, like the Applied Research and Development building, this facility also will focus on innovative means for heating and cooling, passive solar glazing and the use of reclaimed water. The building design is the result of architects interviewing students, faculty and staff and incorporating their needs into a student-centered facility.

"No other business school in the U.S. will be like this," said Mason Gerety, dean of the College of Business Administration. "Not only will it be environmentally responsible but the features inside will truly benefit our students and faculty." The most distinctive feature of the building is the 32,000 square feet of breakout spaces that serve as meeting areas for students and faculty, extended classrooms, and libraries. The spaces promote interaction and unlike other buildings that are designed to just move people in and out, the new building will invite students to stay.

"The goal in our designs at Northern Arizona University has been to find better ways to connect students to the educational experience," says Skip Allen, facilities unit manager for Carter & Burgess in Phoenix. There will even be a learning-friendly café, where students and faculty can meet at whiteboard countertops to brainstorm on projects and current issues.

In addition to the interactive character of the building, it's also designed to be flexible. Many of the walls and cubicles are on wheels so different spaces can be easily accommodated. Classroom flexibility permits faculty to arrange the setting of their classroom environment to best suit their style for teaching and learning.

"The liberal use of day lighting, natural ventilation, and wide open spaces promotes a free-flow circulation of students, faculty and ideas. We were also able to harness Flagstaff's wonderful weather conditions to supply 80 percent of how the building is heated and cooled, thus reducing energy consumption," Allen said.

In August, NAU will begin renovation on the engineering building. The existing building's interior will be upgraded in appearance and functionality. The student-friendly design will include a separate research annex that will provide research opportunities for undergraduates. The project includes an 18,000-square-foot expansion to the building that will provide additional classroom and office spaces. There will also be breakout spaces and high-tech computer labs to assist students in their research and keep them current on rapidly changing technology.

"The new laboratories and classrooms are designed for the way we teach engineering and the way students learn," said Laura Huenneke, dean of College of Engineering and Natural Sciences. "There's an enormous emphasis on students working together in groups or teams, often in collaboration with outside industrial or corporate representatives."

A World News Center
NAU began improving its Flagstaff campus in fall 2003 with the massive renovation of the School of Communication. The building will be completed in time for the start of the 2004-05 school year.

Although this facility will not be a certified "green" building, it will have some many student-friendly features.

The centerpiece of the refurbished building will be a multifunctional newsroom space, the World News Center. This state-of-the-art student news hub will be home to The Lumberjack student newspaper, the student-run TV station NAU Live! and KJACK radio.

In addition to contemporary classrooms and lecture halls, the building will feature space for high-tech labs and studios, including a commercial photography studio that will accommodate objects as large as an automobile, a 70-seat open lab that will contain three digital editing bays and a recording studio. There will also be a gallery for student and faculty exhibits and shows.

"The renovated communication building has been designed to encourage interdisciplinary activity between students and faculty from all eight of our disciplines," said Roger Lavery, outgoing dean of the School of Communication. "Unique areas of the building will attract students from across the country and around the world." In addition to the work being done on NAU's academic buildings, there are also plans to enhance students' living environment. Next spring, NAU will tear down the single-story cinder block housing units in the heart of campus to replace them with modern apartment- and suite-style student housing.

"This is the first of several phases of construction being planned that will replace older traditional-style buildings with buildings that will meet the demands of tomorrow's college student," said Rich Payne, director of Residence Life at NAU. "As one of the larger residential campuses in the country, it will be important to continually upgrade our housing inventory."

The new construction is the most visible sign of a more attractive and efficient NAU. The Arizona Board of Regents recently approved President Haeger's proposal to restructure NAU's academic areas, consolidating 10 colleges into six. "This is the beginning of significant change on the NAU campus," Haeger has said.

It may be the beginning of change, but it's a continuation of NAU's commitment to be one of the best residential universities in the West. "These important projects can only help ensure our students' success," Haeger said. "We're making sure that every dollar spent is for the benefit of our students and we're keeping pace with what they want and need to ensure their success."