Feature Article - June 2008
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Fit and Healthy on Campus

Sustainable Campus

When colleges and universities choose to build new facilities, there is a growing trend toward building as green as possible, and toward creating wide-open spaces.

Stephen Springs, a partner with Dallas-based architecture firm Brinkley Sargent Architects, said more recreation facilities of all kinds are introducing more natural light through large windows and open spacing, and said that often, the recreation facilities that use such designs are award-winning facilities. They do not "overcompartmentalize," but use free flow and accessibility of space.

"A lot of facilities want people to see what's going on inside from the outside," Springs said. "The facility acts as its own billboard when people are passing by." This trend is evident on many college campuses.

The American Council on Education (ACE) has launched a Web site, "Solutions for Our Future," which emphasizes the greening of America's college campuses.

"Solutions has sparked a national conversation about the broad-based public benefits of higher education and the importance to our country's future of a sustained investment in our colleges and universities," said ACE President David Ward in a press release announcing the initiative. "The efforts of our institutions in the area of sustainability will further highlight the contributions our students, faculty and staff are making every day in addressing some of the most daunting challenges facing our world."

While the site focuses on entire campuses and their sustainable initiatives, this trend is trickling into campus recreation facilities. Recently opened facilities like the renovated recreation center at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., the University of Maine's new Student Recreation and Fitness Center, the Western Washington University's Wade King Student Recreation Center and California State University at Fullerton's new recreation center have all aimed for LEED certification to verify their sustainability.

Designed to achieve LEED certification, the College of William and Mary's renovated and expanded Recreation Center included a 40,000-square-foot expansion and a renovation of 55,000 square feet. The facility now includes more than 10,000 square feet of cardio and weight space, a two-story rock-climbing wall, a juice bar, new exercise rooms and a new multipurpose court.

Cal State Fullerton's Student Recreation Center won "Best Overall Sustainable Design" as part of the 2007 Best Practice Awards for the University of California/California State University Energy Efficiency Partnership Program through more efficient use of energy and water, low-emitting materials, a construction waste management plans and other initiatives.

The new two-story, 95,000-square-foot center features a rock wall, a 22,000-square-foot multicourt gym, a 15,000-square-foot cardio and weight room, an outdoor leisure and lap pool, a multimedia cardio room, an indoor track and more.

"The students who spearheaded the center's funding and the campus Design and Construction Office staff always intended for the Student Recreation Center to be environmentally sensitive," said Kurt Borsting, director of the Titan Student Union in a press release. "Our goal is to provide a great, new campus facility that uses resources wisely."