Roskens Hall strives for greener pastures

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By Jonathan Heida, Contributor

Roskens Hall, recently renovated with a price tag of $13.7 million, is a perfect example of a green building.

“When a University of Nebraska building is being renovated or built, it has to follow a sustainable design policy, which means meeting many green requirements,” said John Amend, director of facilities management and planning at UNO.

Everything in Roskens was strategically planned from floor-to-ceiling to meet or exceed these green requirements, he said.

The new carpet and paint meet the LEED standard for air quality. The “new carpet smell,” so pervasive in other new buildings, is absent at Roskens Hall.  That smell comes from a high level of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED for short, is a rating system for measuring the “greenness” of buildings. One of those measurements is VOC levels, according to Amend. “Most of the sustainable design policy follows LEED standards,” he said.

Amend also said that the new furniture in Roskens contains up to 80 percent recycled materials.

“Whether it’s fabric, plastic or wood, most of it was recycled,” Amend said.

During the renovation of Roskens Hall, nearly everything was recycled instead of being thrown away.

“You can go and buy used doors from some places,” Amend said, “You might be able to find doors that used to be in Roskens.”

Having taken classes in Roskens prior to its renovation, recent UNO graduate Ashley Lambrecht recalled a distinct lack of natural light in the building. Amend said that many windows have been added to harvest daylight.

Not only were windows added, but LED lights have also been installed in many of the offices. LED lights help cut back on energy consumption, Amend said.

In addition to the more subtle green features, Roskens uses high-efficiency monitoring equipment that the Science Technology Engineering and Math Initiative uses to determine where, when and how electricity is being used.

“Sure we could leave fans on all the time, but why would we waste that electricity?” Amend said.

Green features are spreading throughout the entire University of Nebraska system.

“Green is becoming a more standard way of doing things, Amend said. “All of our buildings are just getting better and better.”

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