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Renovations, new construction create a healthier environment for students

Jul 21st, 2011 | Category: Feature Stories

By Ashley Festa

Sunscreens on windows facing east, west and south exposures, like these seen at the Feik School of Pharmacy, shade UIW buildings, reducing the need for air conditioning.

UIW has equipped its newly expanded nursing building and other renovated buildings with many of the latest energy-saving features as part of its ongoing commitment to becoming a more environmentally conscious institution.

Large windows supplement interior lighting with natural sunlight to reduce energy consumption in the nursing building, which at least one instructor believes has led to a higher student-success rate.

“The lecture hall is filled with light and you feel good when you go in there,” said Dr. Kathi Light, dean of the Ila Faye Miller School of Nursing and Health Professions. “There are days I don’t turn the lights on in my office until 5 o’clock.”

Other eco-friendly changes to building interiors include lighting systems in classrooms that have two levels to conserve electricity, and in the nursing building, the lighting system is connected to the HVAC sensors with a timer to turn off lights between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. when no occupancy is sensed to reduce unnecessary power usage. Toilets with two types of flushing for liquid and solid waste are also part of the renovations.

“We are designing buildings to be beneficial to both the occupants and the environment,” said Mike McChesney, of McChesney/Bianco Architecture. “Research has shown that the open spaces we are creating, which have large windows that allow views to the outside and bring in large amounts of natural light along with the air quality improvements, have a positive effect on students, who tend to learn better in cheerful, healthy environments.”

Variable air volume air conditioning boxes in each room sense body heat, and when no one is in the room, air volume is reduced automatically. Improving the air quality at the nursing building is UIW’s use of linoleum flooring manufactured with all-natural materials. These more natural tiles do not emit volatile organic compounds, promoting indoor air quality.

Upcoming construction of UIW’s new fine arts building will incorporate the measures already in place elsewhere on the campus and more, including the use of recycled materials to avoid waste and the manufacture of new products.

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