Big Ten’s Eco Efforts: Purdue University

In the spirit of our “Green Gridirons” series (but just in case college football wasn’t your thing), the “Big Ten’s Eco Efforts” series highlights creative off-the-field sustainability efforts.

On the campus of Purdue University stands Ross Nature Preserve, where graduate students and faculty plan to build a living building. Photo: Purdue University.

On the campus of Purdue University stands Ross Nature Preserve, where graduate students and faculty plan to build a living building. Photo: Purdue University.

In order to create a “living building,” Purdue University needed a small building with an apartment and classroom for an ecologist-in-residence. They wanted to build it to the standards of the Living Building Challenge, said Michael Gulich, director of sustainability at the school.

The Living Building Challenge requires 20 prerequisites for certification, said Gulich. The requirements include net zero energy, which means producing as much energy as it consumes; net zero water, which requires a person’s water use to only come from collected precipitation or reused, purified water; an area for agriculture and an education component explaining how the site was built and how it functions.

The university plans to begin construction during the summer of 2014, said Gulich.

Once construction is complete, the school will become the first public higher education institution to have a living building, according to the Living Building Challenge website.

Gulich said the most difficult aspect of the developing the project has been managing the materials to be used for construction.

“The (Living Building Challenge has) what is called a materials red list, which is a list of materials that can’t show up in the building,” said Gulich. “Things you would expect like asbestos are on that list, but other things like PVC and neoprene are also on (the list).”

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