New Building Construction School To Be First Of UF’s “Green” Buildings
GAINESVILLE — The University of Florida’s new School of Building Construction will be the first of what may be many green buildings on campus — and that’s not referring to color.
“Green building, or high-performance building, is creating a healthy-built environment that uses resource efficient practices and ecologically sound principles. It is grounded in the commonly stated principles of reduce, reuse and recycle,” said Charles Kibert, interim director of the M.E. Rinker Sr. School of Building Construction.
Kibert said the new school will be used as a pilot project for future UF buildings.
“This building will be very energy and water efficient,” he said. “We hope to demonstrate a very high level of recycled content and reused materials in the building.”
Things that can be recycled or disassembled later, such as structural steel framing, are part of what will make the 42,000-square-foot building a green one, Kibert said. The premier example of recyclable materials are products made of metals such as aluminum or steel or of natural materials such as cork or wood that can be composted at the end of their life cycle.
Kibert said it’s particularly important to eliminate the use of composite materials in green buildings, such as co-extruded plastics and laminated wood products, that have no recyclable potential.
“Conceptually, I would like to see Rinker Hall constructed of products that are materials resources 100 years from now rather than industrial waste,” Kibert said.
Another benefit is that green buildings are healthier buildings. They ensure that air quality is of the highest standard; that materials such as carpeting, paint and wallpaper, which give off volatile organic compounds, are not used as construction components; that high-quality air handling systems are installed; and that energy is conserved, Kibert said.
Kibert said he prefers to call these buildings “high performance” because they should be able to save about 40 percent on the operational and maintenance costs of a conventional building. That doesn’t include the health benefits many companies are seeing in terms of productivity and reduced absenteeism.
A total of $4.1 million was donated for the new building, including a major donation from the Rinker family and donations from construction firms and alumni. That money will be matched with state funds to meet the building’s estimated $8.2 million cost.
The concept of green building is a rapidly growing trend not only in the United States, but also worldwide. Numerous environmental regulations already are in place, said Lynn Rykowski, spokeswoman for the National Association of Home Builders.
“All builders follow energy codes that set standards for energy efficiency and cover items such as appliances, lighting and water conservation,” Rykowski said. “Green building programs, such as those administered by local home builders associations, typically ask builders to exceed local, county, state and federal regulations for energy efficiency, water conservation, site planning and more.”
The association has seen a notable increase in builder interest relating to green building techniques.
“There is definitely a growing trend. More and more consumers are interested in knowing that their homes are both energy efficient and environmentally friendly,” Rykowski said.
The home building community is adopting green building practices in an effort to be more environmentally conscious as well as gain a competitive edge, Rykowski said.