University commits to a greener campus

All new construction on campus will be built to higher energy efficiency and sustainability standards under an agreement the chancellor signed along with a coalition of college and university leaders.

Under the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, which Chancellor Victor Boschini signed last spring, TCU has created a committee to oversee the implementation of eco-friendly construction and sustainable materials, headed by Provost Nowell Donovan and made up of other faculty and students.

According to the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment’s Web site, the commitment calls for universities to create an environment that is emissions neutral, meaning that for all emissions produced by the university, action is taken to reduce an equal amount of greenhouse gases.

Boschini said the university will also make the plan, including progress made, available to the public via the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

“I signed the commitment because the students and staff here at TCU are dedicated to creating a more sustainable environment,” Boschini said.

TCU’s theme for the semester is “Think Purple, Live Green.”

“The commitment is a monumental step in the greening of the university,” said Keith Whitworth, professor of sociology and a member of TCU’s Climate Commitment committee. “It’s not an easy commitment, but it’s the right thing to do.”

Under the commitment, all new buildings are required to comply with Leadership Energy in Environmental Design silver standards, which go beyond basic LEED certification.

The U.S. Green Building Council identifies the LEED as a nationally accepted third-party certification program that focuses on performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. The silver certification indicates a higher level of compliance in each category.

Boschini said the recently completed Brown-Lupton University Union and four new residence halls constructed last year were not built under the commitment, but the buildings are able to meet basic LEED standards.

The new Scharbauer Hall will be the first building constructed in compliance with LEED’s silver standards, Boschini said. Although engineering future projects for certification will increase costs for future construction, Boschini said a larger bill won’t affect tuition.

“The cost of the commitment won’t be realized for about another 18 months, but it’s possible in some cases the university will save money on energy costs,” Boschini said.

TCU is one of 564 national collegiate signatories which include Rice, the University of North Texas and the University of Houston.