In recent years, Dominican University has made considerable strides toward making its campus green and sustainable. The University's projects include the sustainable conscious construction of a new academic building, the installation of permeable pavers, more efficient energy management, and the current use of a 1920's cistern as a mechanism used to irrigate much of campus.
The most noticeable sustainable project on campus is Parmer Hall, which was completed in August 2007. The construction of Parmer Hall followed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria. During construction, 27% of the material used was recycled content and 73% of the material was purchased locally. Lyptus wood, a rapidly renewable wood from the eucalyptus tree, was also used for the doors in Parmer Hall. Additionally, the caliper of trees replanted was more than the amount which was removed during construction.
Parmer Hall saves on energy with its occupancy sensors and daylighting system in the atrium. The occupancy sensors cause the lights to turn off and the temperature to be lowered when rooms have been vacated while daylighting causes the lights to dim when natural light levels are high. The building contains a building automation system which monitors and controls Parmer's temperatures as well as a heat recovery system which takes heat energy from exhausted air and uses it to preheat fresh air.
In 2002, Dominican University was the first in the Chicagoland area to install permeable pavers as an alternative to blacktop in the parking lot. The pavers are part of an engineered system of stone, filter fabric and topping which cleanses the water as it percolates naturally into the ground.
Dominican University has also taken large strides to save on energy use in its effort to be more sustainable. In 2003, new boilers were installed to replace the old boilers from circa 1920s. These energy efficient boilers save 100,000 therms (unit of measurement for gas) per year. Another energy- saver implemented in 2005 was replacement of light fixtures throughout campus. The new lighting saves approximately 148 kilowatts per year. The 80 year-old ventilation system in Lewis Hall was modified in 2008 to provide central air conditioning to the building. With this project, the instatement of insulated windows and the removal of window air conditioners allow for more energy efficiency in Lewis Hall. In addition to energy savings, the ventilation system replacement relied on the oldest sustainable trick in the book: recycling i.e. the original ductwork was used.
The cistern, though much more hidden than Parmer Hall, is also a significant contribution to DU's sustainability efforts. The cistern had been idly collecting storm water for years and is now used to irrigate campus, including the soccer field. The water stored in the cistern is also used to provide air conditioning in Parmer Hall. In utilizing the cistern, Dominican University saves 4-6 million gallons of water per year. You can check out a video about the cistern at: http://www.dom.edu/events-news/newsroom/DU_Videos/cistern.html
These efforts are just the start of Dominican's sustainability efforts. With the help of students we continue to look for new ways to be good stewards of the resources available to us and help reduce our impact on the environment.