Instead of moving dirt the conventional way at the construction site of
Jacksonville State University’s Little River Canyon Center, contractors are
saving the topsoil to be put back in place when construction is complete.
It’s one of the many Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
certification standards the construction team is following at the site near Fort
JSU President Bill Meehan said it’s important for the university to be active
in supporting a “green” building.
“Universities should take the lead role as a public institution for
environmental research and preserving the environment,” Meehan said.
“There are many steps to take, and it all starts with the design of the
building,” said Oscar Martinez, an architect with Jenkins Munroe Jenkins
Architecture in Anniston.
The biggest concern is keeping the building cool in the summer and warm in
the winter, said Martinez, who is closely monitoring the LEED standards.
The building will be positioned so the sun will not be so intense and so wind
can provide ventilation.
“The energy bill is going to be really low now,” Martinez said. “The building
was going to cost about $30,000 a year for the power bill, but this building
will be about $16,000.”
The design also includes reflective paint on the roof to reflect sunlight
away, installing insulation made from recycled newspaper, and creating large
roof overhangs to shade the building from summer sun.
The Little River Canyon Center is a multi-purpose building that will serve
many different groups of people, according to Pete Conroy, who directs JSU’s
Little River Canyon Field School.
“For locals, it’s a community center. For scientists, it’s a research
facility. For visitors, it’s a learning lab,” Conroy said.
The building will have offices for JSU and the National Park Service, three
classrooms, a state-of-the-art auditorium, a 2,700-square-foot museum and a gift
“In terms of volume, most of the visitors will be tourists,” Conroy said.
“We’re all about economic development through eco-tourism.”
Conroy said it is also desirable for visitors to come to Little River Canyon
Center and “fall in love with JSU” so they will want to attend school there.
Visitors who arrive by bike or hybrid car will enjoy preferred parking
benefits. Martinez said this will serve as an incentive for people to use more
All building materials will come from within 500 miles of the building site,
and all plants used in landscaping will come from the original site, so
irrigation will not be necessary.
“I have always believed in conservation and I think that with all the
problems we have right now with global warming and energy crisis, we have to do
something,” Martinez said.
“Even if this building isn’t LEED certified, I think it will be a big stand
in conservation,” Martinez said. “We can take steps to make more efficient
buildings, and I think that is something that’s pretty smart.”
About Jessica Otwell
Jessica Otwell is an intern writer with The Anniston Star. She is a recent graduate of Auburn University, where she majored
in journalism and political science.
See story at The Anniston Star's website: www.annistonstar.com