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Students prepare to start semester living, dining in SPSU’s first green certified buildings

SPSU hexagonStudents prepare to start semester living, dining in SPSU’s first green certified buildings

Marietta, Ga. (Aug. 16, 2011) – When classes start on Wednesday at Southern Polytechnic State University, the anticipated 5600 students will be welcomed back to campus to the university’s first group of green-certified buildings.

The residential and dining facilities – Hornet Village, University Columns and Stinger’s Restaurant - have earned LEED Silver and EarthCraft certifications.

The university used two green building ratings systems to document the energy and water saving features of the facilities: LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and EarthCraft. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the developers of LEED, has supported sustainable building and development practices through a series of rating systems. With a LEED certification, organizations such as SPSU can take advantage of state and local government incentives, not to mention boost external interest in current projects. EarthCraft was created by the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association and Southface to ensure sustainable, efficient design and function in residential dwellings in the Southeast.

There are four levels of certifications provided by the USGBC: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Each level requires a certain number of points obtained from a building specific rating system. For instance, to reach the Silver level in the Homes category, the building must earn 60 to 74 points. SPSU had been taking measures to receive LEED Certification-Silver in the Homes category since the housing and dining facilities broke ground in 2009.

To earn LEED Certification-Silver, SPSU’s buildings were required to meet specific criteria and address the following qualifications: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. EarthCraft projects lead to lower utility costs, enhanced indoor air quality, increased comfort, reduced maintenance requirements and potential construction cost savings.

“Hornet Village and University Columns are not only the newest residential additions to the campus; they were also highly anticipated. With the university teaching green building technology in the classroom and its commitment to sustainability, it seemed the only responsible course was to save energy, water and resources by using and demonstrating green building techniques,” explained Kasey Helton, SPSU’s director of Auxiliary Services.

University Columns is SPSU’s special-interest housing that consists of 10 houses for students who are a part of fraternities, sororities or international and honor programs. Each house contains 12 beds, a full kitchen, laundry facilities, a study lounge and a room for chapter meetings or gatherings.

Hornet Village is made up of two, four-story buildings that provide suite-style living spaces to undergraduates with a total of 600 beds available. Students have the choice to choose environmentally-friendly suites with single or double occupancy bedrooms and connected bathrooms. There are common rooms found throughout the buildings, where students can take part in a range of activities, or take advantage of designated study rooms.

The Stinger’s Restaurant at the X is the newest dining hall facility on campus. It institutes numerous eco-friendly programs such as not using food trays in and effort to decrease the amount of waste in landfills and conserves energy by eliminating the need for heated water in the washing process. Other green measures taken by Stingers include buying from local farms and companies, using oils with zero-trans fat, serving ocean friendly sea-food and caged-free eggs, selling refillable mugs and participating in Project Clean Plate. Project Clean Plate encourages students to only take what they can eat, thus reducing food waste in landfills. After three weeks of the program, food waste was reduced by 300 pounds.

SPSU continues to work towards a better environment for all its students, staff, faculty and community. With the addition of having three green certified buildings, SPSU is on its way to reaching its goal.