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Review of Policies and Procedures for Incorporating Sustainable Design on University and College Campuses

Author: Lisa A. Kamphaus
Date: 2010
Program: Master of Science in Interior Architecture, Chatham University

College and university campuses are like small neighborhoods and experience the same problems, complexities, and environmental issues. By greening their existing portfolios, colleges and universities are uniquely poised to have a powerful impact on the built environment and future generations. The purpose of this study was to examine the extent of sustainable construction practices that colleges and universities are engaged in. The process that colleges and universities use to incorporate sustainable design practices into their construction projects, the rating systems utilized, the number and types of buildings being planned and constructed, the strategies that were eliminated or deemed unsuccessful, and the financial and environmental impacts of incorporating sustainable practices were investigated. Empirical research was conducted with the aid of the on-line survey software, Qualtrics. Colleges and universities listed in the Sierra Magazines 2009 annual Cool Schools list were invited to participate. The questionnaire was divided into several sections that included a combination of open-ended and closed questions requesting information on the following: general information in regards to location of campus, size of campus, age of campus and United States region of campus; (ii) information on sustainable design and construction projects being planned on campus; (iii) information on sustainable design and construction projects that have been completed on campus; (iv) information on updating existing buildings on campus with sustainable design and construction strategies; and (v) information on cost analysis, health and productivity of occupants, and actual strategies used and/or eliminated. The study results suggest that some colleges and universities are highly committed to sustainable design and construction projects while others are just beginning their involvement. The results also suggest that the majority of the buildings being planned, completed, or updated with sustainable strategies are predominately used by students. Results further indicate that most people believe that there is no difference in cost, health, or productivity between standard buildings and green buildings. Post occupancy studies are minimal, leaving a gap between perception and knowledge. With little to no past research regarding the policies and procedures that college and university campuses are utilizing for sustainable design and construction projects further study is necessary. This study lays the foundation for further research that could aid other campuses interested in starting this process.