As the Department of Facilities moves down its list of improvements and renovations to the NUHS campus, its goal is to choose environmentally friendlier products whenever feasible and prudent. For example:
- Two years ago, NUHS received a matching grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation to replace all of its old fluorescent light bulbs and ballasts with newer more energy-efficient models. Not only better for the environment, the new lighting will soon pay for itself in cost savings reflected in the university’s energy bill.
- This fall, the university replaced the flooring on the main level of Janse Hall. The new flooring is a sustainable product made of recycled and natural materials that boast a better breakdown capability when discarded. The flooring is approved by the USGBA (United Stated Green Building Association) for LEED points because of the low levels of petroleum products and PVCs used in production, combined with the new low VOC mastic products that were used for installation.
- When replacing the main air conditioning unit for Janse Hall, the university replaced the CFC unit choosing an ozone-layer friendly HFC unit.
- Planned rehab of the new classroom in Janse Hall includes new seating constructed with plastic components made from recycled material.
NUHS is also keeping an eye to better environmental choices as it improves its clinic facilities:
- In the Lombard clinic, when 70 clinic windows required replacement, NUHS chose windows to improve thermal efficiency and conserve energy.
- When the clinic roof was repaired, the university chose a roofing compound with a reduced VOC rating compared to traditional roofing compounds.
- The new NUHS Chicago clinic was also upgraded with energy efficient lighting and other ‘green’ equipment prior to opening.
Also, the university initiated the demolition of five houses on campus owned property in the past three years. “This will provide us with more green space for our campus and hopefully will give us the flexibility we need in the future to develop restorative spaces for native wildflowers, trees or even grasses,” says Tom Rohner, NUHS director of facilities. For each of the five demolitions, the university allowed the village of Lombard to stage training exercises for its fire department and emergency response crews in each building, giving back to the local community.
As campus improvements continue, university officials will continue to make environmentally conscious choices that balance with budget and long-term planning goals. “Many of these improvements make cost-benefit sense as well as good environmental sense,” says Rohner. “We’re aware of responsible trends and issues like reducing carbon footprints, and we are trying to be cognizant of these subjects as we order and replace materials on campus.”