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6 September 2007
Town & Gown:
Hot, Dry and Reaffirming a Decision

The Little River Canyon Center will be LEED certified. Photo illustration special to the News.

Reprinted here in its entirety.

By Dr. William A. Meehan
President, Jacksonville State University
Weekly Column - Town and Gown

Maybe it was the unprecedented string of triple-digit August temperatures and the reoccurring pattern of extreme drought.

Maybe too, it was the corresponding utility bills associated with the cooling of JSUís buildings and the prohibition on watering our campus landscaping.

Many factors contributed, but for sure it was reaffirming of our decision on how we would construct JSUís newest building.

On June 11, JSU started construction on the Little River Canyon Center near Fort Payne, and it will be one of the stateís first LEED certified construction projects. That means that at the time it opens, it will have been reviewed and certified by a panel of experts for its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The building process will reduce levels of waste. The building materials will have been selected to minimize the impact on our natural resources. Many of the materials will include recycled content and all will come from places nearby, so as to reduce the need for their long-distance transportation. The plumbing will include water saving devices like faucets with automatic cut-offs and cisterns that collect roof-top rainfall for landscape care. The heating and cooling system will utilize geothermal technology by pumping air through pipes traveling deep into the ground where temperatures reduce the need for energy.

The Center will include many other sustainable features, but most importantly, it will serve as a model: it will teach others how we can use technology to conserve resources and reduce emissions which ultimately contribute to climate change. The University will be partnering with the National Park Service, who will have offices in one wing of this unique 25,000-square-foot ďgreenĒ building. Additionally, this cutting edge, environmentally friendly construction technology will be incorporated into high-tech meeting spaces, a state-of-the-art museum and classrooms that will be used by JSU faculty for teaching and research.

JSUís Field School will also utilize the Center. Renee Morrison, JSUís Field School Coordinator says she ďis very excited they will be able to conduct classes dealing with nature and the environment in a LEED certified building. The building itself, and how it was constructed, will serve as a wonderful teaching aid. Many of our classes will emphasize the importance of protecting our environment and we will use this building to create awareness to alternative eco-friendly construction.Ē

Earlier this summer I issued a statement suggesting all universities explore LEED certification. The hot and dry summer has been harsh, but certainly it has been reaffirming. The time for greener buildings is now and Iím proud Jacksonville State University is taking the lead.

For more information about the Little River Canyon Center, please contact JSUís Environmental Policy and Information Center by calling 256-782-8010.

Pete Conroy, Director of JSUís Environmental Policy and Information Center and Field Schools, contributed to this article.

About William A. Meehan

Dr. William A. Meehan is president of Jacksonville State University. His column, "Town & Gown," appears in The Jacksonville News.

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