Elon University expands without hurting the environment

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ELON, N.C -- At Elon University, they have figured out how to expand their campus without hurting the environment.

Elaine Durr is Elon University's Director of Sustainability. She explained what "green" construction means to the university and to the surrounding community.

"During construction, sending less waste to the landfill, those are great things for our University and for our community," Durr said. "We need to think about it now. And as we move forward, it's even more important."

Sankey Hall is the newest classroom building at Elon.

From the outside, it looks just like the rest of the buildings on campus.

But Brad Moore, Director of Planning, Design, and Construction, pointed out the features that make the three-story building special.

"This building is laid out along the east, west axis," Moore said. "The sun comes in from the south and the major spaces like classrooms are on the north side of the building. So the natural light is hitting the hallway floor and bouncing into the major spaces."

Sankey Hall has a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification.

Along with a 23% energy cost savings, low flow plumbing can reduce water usage by 31%.

Moore added that "green" construction practices have changed the industry. Builders, cities, and universities are looking for ways to protect the environment.

"It's really become good construction practice," Moore said. "Everyone already knows how to do this work and they do it as a part of their ongoing design now."

When Elon University began the sustainability program, finding a carpet made from recycled material was tough.

Nowadays, manufacturers have caught up to demand and that's helping to drive down the cost of building green.

"The construction cost and the design cost is getting very close to the non-green building," Moore said. "It's really the certification process that's the added cost to the project."

Building with recycled material seemed like a strange idea at first, but 30 buildings later, "green" is good for Elon University.

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