The University Record, September 30, 1998

Work on Dana provides tips for 'green' home, office renovations

By Diane Swanbrow
News and Information Services

When the dust clears after the multimillion dollar renovation of the Dana Building, most people walking on the Diag won't notice anything different.

The outside of the building, a campus landmark that's approaching its centennial year, will look just about the same. It won't occupy an additional square inch of real estate, but the inside will contain 20 percent more usable space for the growing School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE). It also will be a healthier, more flexible place that uses half the energy of an average building its size and function.

"Our students will not only learn in the building, but from the building," says SNRE Dean Daniel Mazmanian, who sees the renovation as a golden opportunity for the School to practice what it teaches by making environmental concerns a top priority.

At a time of growing public awareness of environmental problems, the project provides a model for "green" renovations of homes and offices.

Among the strategies used by project planners:

• Instead of dumping used building materials in a landfill, planners salvaged and re-used or recycled everything from concrete and scrap metal to bricks, wood beams and rafters. In the Dana renovation, students and faculty member Robert Grese stacked more than 5,000 brick pavers, discovered under concrete slabs in the old building's courtyard, for later use in building landscaping.

• Planners bought wood products only from certified suppliers able to document that the wood originated in forests that are sustainably managed.

• Planners discussed environmental concerns with contractors before the job began. They let contractors know at the outset that saving surrounding plants and trees was important. In the Dana Building renovation, a crane used for roof reconstruction was carefully positioned to save mature trees and a garden of native plants.

• They asked contractors to turn off equipment not in use, and to pay for their own electricity as an economic incentive to avoid wasting energy and creating unnecessary air and noise pollution.

• The project plans maximized natural light by including the installation of skylights, light tubes and many windows. Planners installed fluorescent lamps with electronic ballasts, and considered daylight sensors and occupancy sensors in common spaces.

• When deciding on different types of products or materials, they considered the life cycle of products, such as the embodied energy and heat insulation value of insulation materials. Also, buying locally produced materials saved on transportation, and supported the local economy.

• Planners used the least toxic products available for paint stripping, and for re-finishing walls, floors and furniture.

Visit the project's Web page,, created and maintained by SNRE graduate student Peter Reppe. It includes information on the goals, strategies and status of the project, with links to tips for environmentally responsible practices on campus for students, faculty and staff.

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