Photos by Jessica Barnett
Guess what! Despite its flashy appearance, the MU Student Center has a pretty light footprint, especially for a building that handles more than 30,000 students, professors and employees. The building’s plans initially explored LEED certification, but the costs associated with this process didn’t fit into the construction budget (for a LEED success story, read about the new Missouri Orthopaedic Institute here).
That didn’t stop the Missouri Unions from pursuing its own version of “green” greatness. Not only have they hosted numerous Earth Day events, helped with Sustain Mizzou’s E-Waste Drive and made sure to include vegetarian options in their numerous food events, the building itself features an impressive amount of eco-friendlier elements. Here are nine ways Missouri Student Unions got it right:
1. It’s recycled from the ground up.
Structural steel has a high level of recycled content, and concrete was made with fly ash. A white roof membrane reflects solar energy, which has been shown to lower energy demands in cooling down the building.
2. The Shack was repurposed with purpose.
Original booths and carved boards from the old Shack, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Joe Franke, were used to create the unique atmosphere of the new Shack programming area. Also, the original neon T. A. Brady’s sign, once a fixture in Brady Commons, found a new home in the games area inside Mort’s.
3. The interior design keeps natural resources in mind.
Interior features include: Occupancy sensors in offices to turn off lighting when the offices are empty. Finishes and furnishings were selected to maximize indoor air quality and reduce chemical and particle emissions. Carpeting meets the requirements for Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label Plus program and a majority of furniture is SCS Certified. Many other products, including fabrics, plastic laminates and solid surfacing, are all GREENGUARD Certified.
4. They’ve had trayless dining from the start.
Student center dining venues are trayless, which saves on chemicals and water for washing, as well as petroleum in the production of the plastic.
5. Bikers are welcome.
Bikers can enjoy two repair and air pump stations as well as ample racks for parking.
6. Water use stays in check.
The Student Center features sensor-operated plumbing fixtures.
7. Recycling comes full circle.
Not only can you find a recycling station at every corner, food packaging from the dining areas are packaged with potato and sugar based papers. Food waste is pulped and sold to local farmers for compost; dining services uses these proceeds to purchase seasonal food from local farmers.
8. No furniture goes to waste.
More than 200 dining chairs were reupholstered for use in the new commons area, and other Brady Commons furniture was donated to other MU offices. The bookstore kept almost all of its furniture as well.
9. Fancy engineering means energy savings!
A high efficiency HVAC system includes demand-based ventilation controls using CO2 sensors in areas with high peak population density, and total enthalpy heat recovery on all non-kitchen ventilation systems. This technology has not only demonstrated an effective means of reducing energy cost and heating and cooling loads, but has allowed for the scaling down of equipment. Hard to explain, even harder to understand, but just know that it’s reducing our energy impact.
Now, we still have a few bones to pick with the MU Student Center: are three televisions around the information desk really necessary? And the one by Infusion? And the two in the bookstore?
And, most importantly, why hasn’t the Unions Sustainability Task Force done more to promote these great features? They came to Sustain Mizzou last year asking for advice on information plaques, and it would be great to see those installed. Since the university is in the business of education, this is a great way to get students thinking critically about our built environment.