Despite the College of Arts and Sciences Themester on sustainability and the promotion of an environmentally conscious IU community, a walk around campus shows various construction projects that could ignite concern.
But Tom Morrison, vice president for capital projects and facilities, said precautions are taken for all construction projects to best protect the surrounding environment, as part of the campus master plan that outlines various goals for the future of IU.
“Our master plan for IU Bloomington is infused with issues of sustainability,” Morrison said. “Within that, we maintain that all construction projects must develop an environmentally sustainable design that has a number of facets to it.”
Bill Brown, director of the Office of Sustainability, said his office also monitors the effects of construction.
“We’re involved with construction projects from the start,” Brown said. “I sit in on the design and construction meetings for new projects. The University now requires all new buildings to be certified green buildings.”
Morrison said this certification comes from IU’s commitment to the International Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
A multitude of components that go into the buildings are evaluated and scored, which ranks buildings in the program at various levels of prestige based on environmental effect.
Morrison said all projects must be at least at the silver level.
He also said the possibility exists for reaching LEED Gold with the University Information Technology Services’ new Cyberinfrastructure building, which is being constructed with environmentally-conscious materials.
“All the things that you could imagine in a building that’s environmentally friendly we’re trying to achieve with that building,” Morrison said.
Brown said there are 11 projects, either new construction or renovations, currently seeking certification from LEED.
“The new buildings on campus are having as low impact as possible on the environment because they are certified green buildings,” Brown said. “Because they’re certified by a third party, we know we’re doing the things we need to be doing.”
But, creating green buildings is just part of the environmental effect of construction.
The Bloomington University Master Plan — a 10-year construction plan created in March 2010 — also addresses the landscaping and preservation of trees.
Brown said projects such as restoring the Jordan River and increasing the tree canopy are priorities.
Morrison said an arborist on staff for construction projects evaluates which trees are the best to work around, and that trees lost to major construction are replaced — sometimes with more than previously existed.
“We’re very careful about what trees we work around,” Morrison said, adding that part of the master plan is to plant 12,000 trees around campus within the next 10 years.
Brown said with a growing population and campus, construction is inevitable, but IU is handling it in an environmentally conscious way.
“The idea is how you can make construction have as little impact as possible on the environment,” Brown said. “Campus in the future will be much more dense, have much fewer parking areas, but there will be more trees and green spaces.”