A New Vision for Business and Sustainability

UNT Business Leadership BuildingThe new Business Leadership Building is a shining beacon of sustainability. Comprised of features that embody the environmental, economic and social aspects of sustainability, the new business building will equip our business leaders of tomorrow with an appreciation for the importance and benefits of integrating business and sustainability. The building is projected to be certified by the United States Green Building Council in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) as a Gold level building, meaning that sustainable methods and materials were incorporated in the construction of it. This building certification acts to further propel the University of North Texas into the prestigious group of leaders of green campuses across Texas.

The environmental aspect of sustainability is present almost everywhere one looks in the building, but even features that are not visible aided in the achievement of such a high LEED certification. As the Dean of the College of Business, Dr. O. Finley Graves said of visitors experiencing the sustainable features of building, “[when they are] in the building, whether they are conscious of it or not, sustainability is at work." One of the features that will lead to the LEED Gold certification was the use of building materials that were produced within a 500 mile radius, the most obvious of which is the Texas Limestone that is used throughout the building. In addition to the limestone, Acme brick was used from their plant in Denton, IceStone countertops, which are made from recycled concrete and glass, are in the café and restrooms, and also much of the steel and concrete used in the building were from local businesses.

Another innovative incorporation of sustainability is the re-use of “blowdown” water from the cooling towers on the roof of the parking garage. “Blowdown” water is water that is used to keep the cooling towers running properly; after the water is used it’s then recycled to irrigate the buildings native Texas landscaping. The local nativity of the plants used for landscaping around and on the building acts to lower the amount of water and maintenance necessary for upkeep.

One may be asking themselves, “why are the cooling towers on the roof of the parking garage?” One reason this is so is that the Business Leadership Building has a green roof, or an area with vegetation on the roof of the building. Green roofs have many benefits including, helping insulate the building, creating a habitat for natural wildlife that may have been compromised by the building and helping keep the surrounding air temperature lower.  It also provides students and faculty with a beautiful oasis to retreat to when a break from the indoors is warranted.

During the design of the building many steps were taken to ensure efficiency that would truly pay off. Work rooms were placed in central locations throughout various departments so that copiers could be shared this placement exemplifies efficiency and highlights the economic aspect of sustainability. According to Dean Graves, the building was arranged to make it possible for faculty, department chairs, research facilities, and the Deans office to each have one work room with one copier thus minimizing costs. This minimization along with other building efficiencies enabled student fees, except the technologies fee, to decrease so much that there was a net decrease in College of Business student’s fees.

The design of the building also has a large impact of the social aspect of the building’s sustainability. In a statement made by the architects of the building, Polshek Partnership Architects, on the UNT Web site, it was stated that they wished to achieve the feeling of the Roman forum, or community center, with a public meeting place surrounded by “store fronts”. This design is expected to encourage students and faculty to build a community and collaborate.  Another feature that the Dean suspects may have an impact in helping to achieve a community feeling is that there are large windows throughout that allow light and the feeling of the outdoors to pour into the building. This sunlight, along with a café, a general access computer lab, outdoor terraces and team study rooms encourage people to stay in the building longer, allowing for more chances to interact and get to know one another and feel connected to the College of Business.

Upon approaching the building, one cannot help but notice the giant support beams in the shape of “V”s that are strategically placed around the building. These have come to represent the Vision shared by the faculty and students of the College of Business as they help UNT become a leader in both the business world and the world of sustainability. As these business students learn to become business leaders in an environment constructed with sustainability in mind, that mindset will hopefully become what they expect from the atmospheres in which they work, live and play. The Business Leadership Building’s Grand Opening is Thursday Sept. 22, 2011 and all students and faculty are encouraged to stop by the building and experience some of the sustainability at work.

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