Southeastern Sustainability Center earns award from USGBC Louisiana
Monday, June 6, 2016
by: Rene Abadie
SUSTAINABILITY LEADERSHIP AWARD TO SOUTHEASTERN – Members of Southeastern Physical Plant staff display the Operational Excellence Champion Award presented by the Louisiana Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council for the university’s Sustainability Center. Pictured are, from left, Physical Plant Director Byron Patterson; Carlos Doolittle, manager of grounds, landscape and recycling; Assistant Director Mark Whitmar; and Associate Director Chris Aspiron.
HAMMOND – The Southeastern Louisiana University Sustainability Center has been
awarded the Operational Excellence Champion Award by the Louisiana Chapter of U.S.
Green Building Council (USGBC Louisiana).
Director of the Southeastern Physical Plant Byron Patterson accepted the award on behalf of his team for its efforts to make the campus as energy efficient as possible.
USGBC is a nonprofit organization that houses Green Business Certification Inc., the only group to administer project certifications and professional credentials and certificates within the framework of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Green Building Rating System. LEED designation is the international standard for environmentally sound buildings.
The USGBC cited the Southeastern team for implementing energy efficient technologies that are saving energy and money for the university.
“Byron Patterson and his team at Southeastern are dedicated to consistently improving campus facilities, creatively engaging stakeholders and enthusiastically sharing their expertise and sustainability knowledge with students, the regional community and beyond,” said Shannon Stage, executive director of USGBC Louisiana. “They have established a standard of energy efficiency that universities around the state are trying to emulate. The Sustainability Center on Southeastern’s campus is a teaching tool unlike any other in our area.”
The university instituted the Sustainability Center in order to save operating dollars and reduce waste going to landfills, while at the same time providing an invaluable learning component for students involved in energy, mechanical and construction engineering technology.
“Budget cuts over the last several years forced us to think in terms of economics,” said Patterson. “With the strong financial support of our Student Government Association, we’ve started initiatives that have reduced commercial energy dependence and have had a significant return on our investment.”
Among the elements of the Sustainability Center are solar panels on a number of university buildings that generate hot water, as well as electricity; a strong recycling program designed to reduce waste going to landfills by 80 percent; a tree and plant farm, in which the university cultivates its own plants and trees for landscaping on campus; a composting area that converts landscape waste into useable mulch and compost; and rainwater retention ponds that provide irrigation for plants and support a geothermal system for one of the center’s technology-rich classrooms.
The Environmental Education Development Outreach within the Sustainability Center, which is under consideration for LEED certification, was designed by engineering technology students for use in research, education and other educational activities. The room includes numerous monitoring tools constructed by students to determine performance of the solar panels, wind turbine, and geothermal system.
“The center provides our students with a hands-on, real-world learning environment and research opportunities,” explained Lu Yuan, interim head of the Department of Computer Science and Industrial Technology. “With several types of energy technologies, our students have the ability to make adjustments to these devices and observe in real time how the energy output is affected. It’s a proving ground to help determine what works best and can be implemented to save energy costs.”