blogging from the student's perspective

Walking out of my house every day to go to class, I can’t help but pass by the new pharmacy and health sciences building that was just constructed last summer before my junior year. The new building is LEED- gold certified, which is the second highest level of certification that a “Green” Building can receive. It’s made out of Indiana limestone and they used all insourced materials; The flooring is all recycled, the roof is reflective of heat and not absorbant, and the bathrooms have a low-flow system. Pretty cool building to have on our campus as it was a finalist for the sustainability award and is the second green building in Indiana. I think we can say that our campus is taking big strides to make a difference. As I walk past it I notice the architectural structure of the building; the front always welcoming to students and community members with its long string of clear-glass windows. This is a concept using in many of today’s new building techniques– you can even see it at Fairbanks, the 2nd newest building on campus. The whole back of the building is completely window based setting a beautiful view of the forest in front of the canal. Its aesthetically pleasing to say the least, and many “green” buildings are beginning to construct in this way.

However, building artist, Billy McDonough, thinks that going “Green” doesn’t mean making buildings that kill birds. Searching for different landscape projects that dealth with birds, I came upon two useful sites. One dealt with Univesity Of North Carolina’s conservation biology class that is doing the same project as the environmental practicum. Their website defines solutions and and landscape techniques used to decrease the amount of bird strikes on their campus. It’s a great initiative that is now proud to support their botanical garden visitor education center. I was also interested in Billy McDonough’s perspective as a landscape artist and stumbled upon his website, William McDonough + Partners, which design approach states ” We are a collaborative, principles-driven design firm that sees the unique characteristics of each place and project as a source of inspiration and innovation. The foundational principles we bring to each project derive from our vision of the future: a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world—with clean air, soil, water and power—economically, equitably, ecologically, and elegantly enjoyed.”  He states that going green is not only economically valuable but also must contribute to the environment as a whole. His designs are fascinating  and should definitely be checked out.

As I continue to think about all the new buildings being built around Indianapolis, I start to realize that more and more we think about the anthropological side of it and not what it contributes to the environment around us. Even the IMA creating the new visitors center in the 100 acre woods with its full set of windows, or the new Marriot hotel in downtown that is made of blue-reflective glass. Beautiful and new, but a dealth trap to the migrating birds.

Hopefully the next time you are out and about in your hometown or even Indianpolis, take a look at how the buildings are designed and how they conribute to not only our visual pleasure but the natural world around them.It’s a great way to look at how we really perceive the “Green” initiative.

Ashlee

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Comments on: "Are “Green” Buildings really green?" (2)

  1. Good points, but gold is not the highest LEED certification, platinum is. In addition, the idea is energy-sustainability, not necessarily wild-life friendly. I’ve heard some discussions of certifications for things like landscaping for their effects on native species. Programs like these, unlike a LEED certification, do not- ever- translate into economic savings. So, for me the big question isn’t why don’t people? But rather, how do you see beyond money to the inherent good?

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