Moraine Park's new student services addition - green, aesthetic, functional

by speitz2. November 2010 10:45

A new 6,900-square-foot addition at Moraine Park Technical College’s Beaver Dam campus boasts more than functionality and aesthetics. The new student services center is among the College’s “greenest” buildings – the first to be designed and constructed for sustainability using Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver guidelines.

LEED, developed by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), provides a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. In doing so, LEED focuses on five areas of improved performance: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation and design process. There are multiple levels of LEED certification for a variety of different projects, including Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum.

The $1.1 million addition, which garnered 50 points to align with LEED Silver criteria, features recycled blue jeans for insulation; a terrazzo floor to last the lifetime of the building; a super efficient HVAC and energy-recovery system; highly efficient lighting with sensors for automatic shut-off; abundant natural lighting; exterior windows complete with sun shades; and wooden doors featuring recycled straw cores, a renewable agrifiber product. In addition to housing student services, administrative offices, a reception area, counselor offices and areas for security, it creates a welcoming entrance for students, staff and community members, according to Tim Flood, associate director-facilities. Additionally, its design is sympathetic to the environment.

Outside, the building construction disturbed as small an area as possible. “We created a retention pond for containing storm water that only disturbed a 26-foot area, then planted it with prairie grasses to eliminate mowing,” said Flood. “We also went with low-water plantings in the front of the building.”

All of this, said Flood, is to support sustainability. With that in mind, the new parking lot, which now includes 169 slots, contains space reserved for a high-efficiency vehicle. The existing south lot also identifies additional parking for motorcycles and bicycles. Also during construction, all required materials consisted of low or zero volatile organic compounds – including sealants and paints – and were obtained from within a 500-mile radius. “Because Moraine Park relied on materials within 500 miles, the associated energy used to transport them to our site was considerably reduced,” said Flood. “Transporting the items required less gasoline and produced fewer engine emissions – a plus for the environment.”

Key to the project was Fitchburg-based Tri North Builders – a leader in developing buildings to LEED criteria. “We’ve invested heavily in training product managers and staff in LEED since it became the industry standard to embrace LEED buildings,” said contractor Joel Stancer. “All of our product managers are LEED accredited.”

It turns out, according to USGBC, that buildings in the United States are responsible for 39 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, 40 percent of energy consumption and 13 percent of water consumption per year.

Via the new student services addition, Moraine Park is working to do its part to improve those numbers.

“Functionally,” said Flood, “the building could not be better. It provides everything in one stop for students. It is also very attractive.”

And that’s important, agreed Stancer. “It’s got curb appeal. It’s attractive and friendly and it draws people in,” he said. “Inside, it’s spacious for using equipment and mingling.”

In the end, 93 percent of the building’s construction waste was recycled – yet another boon to the environment.

To discover more about Moraine Park’s sustainability efforts, visit, click on “About MPTC” and “We Understand Sustainability.”