Ithaca College Quarterly 2004/2 Our Visionary College

 

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A Green Business Building

This past winter the College was quietly beginning a fund-raising campaign for a new building for the School of Business, which is bursting the seams of the 22-year-old Smiddy Hall and needs serious upgrading to remain competitive.

During the early talks of taking a sustainability leadership role in the United States, the College decided that the School of Business would be the perfect place to start incorporating sustainability principles within the curriculum. "Only an education that recognizes the interdependence of humanity and nature, and compels students to consider the long-term consequences of any decisions they make, can provide them with the tools to solve the complex problems of the 21st century," said Dean Robert Ullrich at the time.

By spring the College was ready to announce its decision to build an environmentally sound, "green" business school building-the first new, sustainably designed facility for a primarily undergraduate business program in the country. "One of the most important resources we have is our physical infrastructure," said Ullrich. "If we are to produce graduates who can balance economic, social, and environmental factors into their day-to-day decision-making, we will need to provide them with facilities that model this process." It was determined that the building would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $14 million.

Local philanthropist Dorothy Park, who has long been committed to ecologically responsible causes and to Ithaca College, almost immediately stepped in with a personal contribution of $7 million for the new sustainable building. Although she is president of the Ithaca-based Park Foundation, which has supported many programs that promote the environment and education at Ithaca College, this gift was a private donation that speaks of Dorothy Park's confidence in Ithaca as a leader in this emerging field. "I am delighted," she said on announcing the gift, "to be able to contribute toward a building that houses not just a school, but also a way of thinking and being that exemplifies ethical business practices, an understanding of organizations as citizens in their communities, and the responsible use of natural resources."

Fund-raising efforts for the building continue to add to Dorothy Park's most generous gift-which is the fifth-highest gift in Ithaca College history. Final designs are not yet in place, but there are some basic elements of sustainable design that we can safely predict the building will incorporate.

The idea of sustainable building is to create a structure that will not only consume fewer resources but give back those it does consume-economically in terms of reduced operating and maintenance costs; socially by providing space for human interaction and interactive learning; and environmentally by using sustainable water management systems, alternative energy and lighting sources such as active and passive solar, and other processes. The goal is minimal waste. When drinkable water goes down the drain, it will be captured along with rainwater to be used for nonpotable purposes such as toilet flushing. Windows will offer beautiful views and be positioned to gain solar heat and provide much of the building's lighting. If heat is generated in the process of producing electricity, it will be harnessed to provide heating or cooling.

The building will also be designed, as is sustainability itself, to incorporate future modifications, additions, and adaptations; for example, cables and ductwork will be placed so that major demolition would not be required to move walls when installing new technologies that will surely be needed as they come into use.  end

 

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