In the fall 2012 semester, Oakland University opened the Human Health Building, which not only provides students with a new medical education environment, but also implements green features new to the campus.
Putting it all together
The $64 million, 173,500-square-foot project took two years to construct.
The U.S. Department of Energy awarded OU a $1.5 million grant as part of the implementation of a geothermal system, including the installation of solar panels to the roof of the building.
“Our main goal with this was to provide students with a new learning experience,” said Terry Stollsteimer, associate vice president of facilities management.
This feature is a system made to stabilize the temperature of the building by using the natural temperature of the earth’s core and cutting utility costs by 50 percent, according to Stollsteimer.
A test of time
The system is currently going through an adjustment period, and this semester is a good test to determine progress, according to Siraj Khan, director of engineering.
“It gets chilly every now and then but I can really attribute that to the abundance of windows. It’s understandable though because the geothermal system is new and, like with everything else, has its kinks,” said Cheryl McPherson, assistant dean of finance and administration for the School of Nursing.
Additional eco-friendly features
Along with the new heating and cooling technology, a heating system was installed in the sidewalk outside of the building to cut costs on salt usage on campus.
“It minimalizes our need for salt and using more chemicals around the building,” Constance Jones, manager of custodial and grounds department, said.
Other green features include the continued use of separate recycling and trash bins already used around campus in an effort to encourage students and staff to be more eco-friendly through recycling, Jones said.
“We don’t want to put all the pressure on the students and staff, so in a joint effort with waste management they pick up the materials and separate them at their site,” Jones said.
Stollsteimer said going green is a lifestyle that you have to be willing to take it upon yourself to support.
As far as other developments with upgrades to facilities, Stollsteimer and his office have their sights set on Dodge Hall with the addition of a trigeneration micro turbine system.
This system will provide energy to the building while kicking it back into the electric grid.
Spreading the word
Visitors from other universities, such as Grand Valley State University, will stop by OU’s campus March 8 to preview the new technology as part of a venture among universities to discuss upgrades to campuses.
For more information about other eco-friendly features of the Human Health Building, visit www.oakland.edu/facilities