When you ask Clement Solomon what West Virginia University is doing to help the environment, dont be surprised if the director of sustainabilitys answer includes directions to the roof of Brooks Hall.
This isnt just any roofand it wasnt just any fix-up project for the venerable building thats home to the Department of Geology and Geography.
Brooks$28.8 million renovation boasts an ultra-efficient heating, ventilation and cooling systemand its state-of-the-art windows are just as efficient, while affording sunbeam after sunbeam of natural light to enhance the atmosphere of learning.
And thats just from the bottom up. Wait until you see that aforementioned roof. Its an ecological wonder to behold.
Instead of shingles, this one is covered with shrubs and other greenery. The rooftop ecosystem of sorts hoards the rainwater that, in turn, helps keep the air conditioning going in the summer and the heat on in the winter.
That means, Solomon said, that WVU is saving green while going green, and thats one of the many tenets of sustainability, a practice that looks at several benchmarks in society, from environmental awareness to the advancement of quality of life.
Brooks Hall is just a start, said Solomon, who was a projects director with the University-based National Research Center for Coal and Energy before being tapped for the sustainability post last spring.
This building is a good example of the significant infrastructure investments made toward sustainability at WVU ,he said.
Across from Brooks on the Downtown Campus, Oglebay Hall is another example, he said.
Oglebays $23.5 million upgrade to make way for its occupant, the Universitys Forensic and Investigative Science Program, also includes several sustainability building principles, Solomon said.
And the mission, hes quick to add, goes well beyond buildings.
Were taking a holistic approach,he said.Were aligning all aspects of sustainability with an overall institutional mission. Some of our programs have already made significant progress, and others are just getting started. We want to make WVU a truly sustainable campus. Thats our vision, and thats our mission.
And the campus is getting there, he said.
For example, WVU last year recycled more than 300 tons of paperand some 42 tons of discarded furniture, appliances and electronics were rescued from the dumpster as part of WVU s annual Blue and Gold Mine Sale.
Both measures have an obvious environmental benefit, Solomon said. They also go back to his earlier notion about saving green while going green.
You save money when youre operating at top energy efficiency,he said.On the institutional level, that means you can take that money and reinvest it for other needs.
Up the hill from Brooks Hall Friday (Oct. 3), charter members of WVU s Sustainability Committee met in the Mountainlair with representatives from the student body, the city of Morgantown, Monongalia County and the state of West Virginia to sign a sustainability pledge to continue the effort.
The pledge encourages people to consider the social and ecological consequences of their actions, Solomon said, while reducing their own personal consumption and wasteful behaviors.
Its an individual pledge and a personal commitment for you, so youll encourage others to do the same,Solomon said.The actions we take every day have an impact on our environment and our society, for good or bad.
WVU is already making an impact in the sustainability arena, he said.
The University recently scored a C+ overall for its sustainability effort from the Sustainable Endowments Institute, a national nonprofit organization that charts the environmental measures of colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada as a special project of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors group.
Thats up from last years C- minus grade, Solomon said, and it puts WVU roughly among the top 50 percent of the 300 schools surveyed by the institute.
Its a good effort and were getting better,he said.We can all do our part. Little steps can amount to big, positive changes.