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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SU Students Study Cost Effectiveness of Green Buildings

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SALISBURY, MD---The recent announcement of Salisbury University’s first Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for the Teacher Education and Technology Center was called the start of a new “green building” era for SU.

Now, students are looking at ways even the campus’ existing buildings may become a little more environmentally friendly.

In fall 2008, students in Dr. Arvi Arunachalam’s Essentials of Finance Real Estate class in the Economics and Finance Department studied the cost effectiveness of adding sustainable infrastructure to SU’s Caruthers, Devilbiss and Henson Science halls. Some of the results were surprising.

For example, the addition of compact fluorescent or LED lighting to replace current fixtures in these buildings, whose construction spanned from 1954-2002, could save $3.50 to $4 for each $1 invested at the current energy rate, the study said. This would mean SU could recoup its cost within eight years of installation—even sooner if the price of electricity increases. Students also calculated that adding more energy-efficient installation and windows to the oldest building studied, Caruthers Hall, would help lower heating and lighting costs in that building.

“You don’t have to make a large investment to see a substantial cost savings,” Arunachalam said. “Simple changes go a long way.”

Perhaps the most unexpected finding came when students determined how much money the University could save by using solar energy. While retrofitting older buildings with solar panels would not be cost effective without a government subsidy, tuning SU’s existing parking lots into solar car ports—installing a solar collector at each parking space—would produce enough energy to power the entire campus on an annual basis, according to the study. Theoretically, the campus could recoup its installation and maintenance costs in just 10-15 years.

As new buildings like the TETC, which opened in 2008, and the new home of SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business, currently under construction and targeted for LEED Gold certification, are being designed with sustainability in mind, changes in older buildings are necessary to allow them to keep up, Arunachalam said. This fall, students are conducting similar studies at SU’s Maggs Physical Activities Center and—expanding into the greater community—the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center.

“Green buildings are going to be the norm 10 years from now,” he said, predicting a corresponding need for environmentally savvy consultants. Using the skills they learn from these studies, he hopes SU students will have an edge in that field.

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.



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