Two Residence Halls Achieve

'Green Building' Status

Northern can claim two of eight campus residence hall renovations in the United States—and the first in the Midwest—to achieve sustainability benchmarks set by the U.S. Green Building Council. Meyland and Van Antwerp Halls have received “certified” and “silver” designations, respectively, through the council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.


“It’s easier for new construction projects to become LEED certified because you can start from scratch with the goal of building green,” said Brandon Sager (Engineering and Planning). “It’s more challenging with an existing building. When we started, people kept telling us it doesn’t really cost much more to go the sustainable route and it turned out to be true.”      


The extensive renovations were completed on a “fast-track,” 90-day schedule over the summer breaks in 2006 and 2007. Each facility was recognized for performance in five areas: sustainable site development, materials selection, water savings, energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality.


“We were able to divert waste from the landfill by recycling more than 250 tons of metal piping and wiring between the two projects,” added Sager. “Many of the materials used in the renovations are made of recycled content and were regionally manufactured. Regulated water use has been reduced by up to 60 percent with the help of dual-flush toilets and low-flow showers and faucets, and air flow has been significantly improved with new mechanical systems. There’s more natural light in these buildings with the addition of windows. We are also saving energy with lights that are on timers or have occupancy sensors.”


The new furnishings are made with environmentally farmed, quickly renewable Malaysian hardwood and were manufactured in Indiana. The replaced beds were donated to RE-MEMBER, a nonprofit organization that supports residents in need on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Other furnishings have been donated to Marquette’s Habitat for Humanity chapter.

Carl Holm (Housing and Residence Life) said the State of Michigan several years ago directed that all state-funded capital outlay projects at public colleges and universities be designed and constructed in accordance with the LEED Green Building Rating System.


“Residence halls are not state funded, so they don’t fall under this requirement, but NMU made the commitment to move in that direction,” Holm said. “We had to be trained on the U.S. Green Building Council expectations and LEED certification because it is quite complicated and it was all so new. We were on the leading edge. It feels good to be able to say we are doing the right thing. LEED was like a tripwire that got us to pay more attention to sustainable practices and that increased focus is now reflected in the president’s road map.”


NMU President Les Wong unveiled a strategic plan in March titled “Road Map to 2015 and Beyond.” Two of its goals are utilizing Northern’s master plan to continue to build and develop a greener campus and serving as a model community for sustainability and energy efficiency.


“A university campus should embody our commitment to green building practices, especially with residence hall work,” said Wong.  “The facilities staff and our partners did an exemplary job with these remodels.”  

Integrated Designs Inc. of Marquette was the architect for the Meyland and Van Antwerp Hall projects. Gundlach Champion of Houghton was the contractor. Other regional companies involved in the projects include Dressler Mechanical of Marquette, Berger and King from Escanaba and S&T Electrical from Sault Ste. Marie.


Sager said Hunt Hall, which is being renovated on the fast track this summer by Closner Construction of Marquette, is expected to attain the silver LEED designation. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, the LEED rating system was created to provide consistent, credible standards for what constitutes green building design, construction and operation.


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Updated: June 24, 2008

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