Feature Article - September 2007
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Eco-Nomically Green

A Little Green Goes a Long Way

By Dana Carman

Small Change, Big Difference

What can you do right now to make a difference in your already-existing facility?

In the case of the Wade King Student Recreation Center, you can probably see several sustainable elements that the facility has incorporated that you could use as well. For example, changing your landscape to incorporate more native plants and examining your current irrigation system. If you're about to install new flooring, consider products made from recycled material and using low-emitting sealants. Switch to green cleaning products and practices. Turn lights off when no one is in the room. Investigate your city's recycling program and how your facility can be a part of it. Reuse materials whenever you can. Support companies and products that support sustainable practices. Consider providing your users with incentives for riding bikes or taking public transportation to your facility.

These things may seem small, but they add up over time. More, it gets you thinking green, and the more you think green, the more you'll implement green practices within your facility.

When designing your new facility, seek out other recreation facilities that have utilized sustainable design. According to Sather, knowing what you want right from the beginning is imperative as it affects all the decisions you make along the way.

"If we had to do it all over again," she said of the Wade King Center, "it would be easier because we now know the stumbling blocks we encountered along the way."

Compare and contrast similar facilities' practices and enlist professionals who can help you implement innovative ways to capitalize on sustainability while creating a healthy, successful environment at the same time. And with any new project, when sitting down to create your budget, remember that upfront costs often don't outweigh long-term costs, so where you may spend a little more up front in design, planning and other elements, you will get it back in lower operational costs. Not to mention you'll see a lot of other savings—the kind that you can't measure in dollars.