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Sustainability is central

Going green saves the planet and money

Contact: Heather Smith

​​​​​​​​Reprinted from Centralight Winter 2016​

​​​Going green saves green

CMU in 2008 established a Campus Sustainability Advisory Committee charged with creating a university culture of sustainability, with a strong focus on student and faculty involvement.

Since then, campuswide initiatives to conserve energy and water and to recycle and reuse materials haven't only saved the planet's resources, they've also saved CMU a lot of money – nearly $11 million.​​

EHS Building

The Education and Human Services Building, built in 2009, earned LEED Gold Certification, the second-highest level of achievement for green buildings. EHS has solar panels to generate sustainable energy, a sedum-planted roof to help manage storm water and reduce heating and cooling costs, and a permeable-surface parking lot with rain gardens to capture runoff and treat storm water. Above left, the massive Biosciences Building is seen under construction last summer. The new facility, completed in the fall, offers a high-tech environment featuring innovative design and space for students and faculty to delve into hands-on learning.​

Biosciences Building

CMU's Biosciences Building welcomed students and faculty for classes and research this week. The $95 million, four-story, 169,000-square-foot building is the largest capital project in CMU's history.

It was built with the university'​s sustainability efforts in mind. Many of the materials were locally sourced, and more than thr​ee quarters of the leftover construction materials were recycled. The building features specially glazed glass windows to reduce energy consumption for air conditioning, sensors to control lights and A/C equipment, a vegetative roof to reduce heat ​absorption, and low-flow plumbing to reduce water usage.

CMU has applied for LEED Gold certification for the building. ​

Growing and composting

At top, CMU's Campus Grow community garden offers 60 individual garden plots to students, faculty, staff and the community. Above, a zero-waste composting program has been established at the four residential restaurants, University Center operations and Java City Coffee Shops. All food waste is hauled 40 miles northeast to Morgan Composting in Sears for processing into usable compost.


Hundreds of recycling locations exist around campus, collecting everything from paper products and plastics to CDs and toner cartridges. In 2014 alone, the university recycled more than 200 tons of materials and diverted another 711 tons from landfills. In 2015, CMU was recognized by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Governor's Recycling Council with the Excellence in Recycling Award. ​

Grawn Hall renovation

To create design harmony between the new and existing architecture in the Grawn Hall renovation project, all the existing windows in the original and 1960s portions of the building were replaced to match those in the new additions. The new windows are more energy efficient and help the building meet the LEED design criteria. ​​

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