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6 July 2007

JSU Wants New Center to be Green

By Jessica Otwell
Star Staff Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.

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 Payne.

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 shop.

“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 eco-friendly transportation.

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.

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