In November, I visited Antonio Calcado at his office on Livingston campus. Calcado is the Vice President of Facilities and Capital planning at Rutgers and I figured he'd be the right guy to ask this question: How green is Rutgers really? After covering the basic and obvious green initiatives that Rutgers has taken, namely the building of a solar farm, the solar canopy project which will begin in the future, and the re-lighting initiative, Calcado enlightened me on some of the finer and subtler details on how Rutgers' green future.
Me: I understand that Rutgers has updated their building standards to include greener criteria. What exactly does this mean?
Calcado: Every new building that goes up at Rutgers will be built to LEED equivalents. We're following a strict set of criteria to ensure that all our buildings meet LEED silver equivalencies. Theres a bunch of different criteria that they made to determine which buildings are actually LEED silver, so we make sure to adhere to all those qualities in every new building we put up.
Me: So what exactly is a LEED silver?
Calcado: Well the LEED rating system is used by contractors who need to build buildings to this standard. Its a certification system to ensure buildings meet a certain green standard. When buildings get evaluated they are rated on basically a gold standard, where platinum is the highest level of rating. We follow all criteria for LEED silver. We don't actually spend the money to get certified. We figure we don't need the paper declaring our buildings LEED silver and that the money we'd need to use to certify the building could be better spent updating other buildings to greener standards.
Me: What are the LEED standards you use when you decide to build another building?
Calcado: Well there are really so many. The guys who handle the actual purchasing and construction of the building would know alot better, but the standards include everything from the lights you put in it to the way it faces the sun. We even consider color a factor. Well, for example, we used these standards to build the new apartments on Livingston. You probably saw the construction on your way here. We literally analyzed what colors to make the building. This way we don't need to use as much heating and cooling to keep the building warm and cold. We're using whites and yellows to ensure the building stays cooler and we're heating it with excess energy from a geothermal energy field that also heats and cools the Rutgers Business Building on campus.
Me: Are you eventually going to make all of the buildings LEED silver at Rutgers?
Calcado: Well certainly every new building that goes up will be LEED silver equivalent or better. We plan to update as much as we can with these older buildings to make them greeneer. Its hard because alot of these buildings are historical and obviously many of them were made before we knew as much as we do about the environmental impacts of a building. We will absolutely do everything we can to make them as sustainable as possible. We're replacing all the old motors and transformers we use to power our buildings with Energy Star appliances. Every one on all four campuses will be replaced. The cost was over one million dollars, but by 2014 we'll be saving more than $300,000 a year. The initial cost will have been paid off by then. We're weatherizing everthing building we can. We've got some older, more difficult buildings to handle, but we're going to weatherize as much as there is to weatherize. We're going to re-light all the buildings, pay attention to storm water standards, use less energy as much as possible. We started a project of high temperature hot water line replacement to insulate all the hot water we're using. We even started a go back to green movement where we only mow 10 percent of the grass in a field and let the rest just grow on its own. The fringes are the only place we mow anymore.
Me: What exactly is the high temperature hot water line replacement project?
Calcado: We have all these deteriorated pipes around the school. As you can imagine the pipes have been around for a long time. Every time you walk past a patch of ground where theres just randomly steam coming up through the surface its from these pipes. They're old and not up to par and we lose so much energy and money on them every year. We are replacing them all over campus. All pipes at Rutgers will be replaced to high temperature insulated pipes. We'll trap the heat we're losing, basically. Its slated to save something like 2,000 tons of CO2 every year.
Me: So basically Rutgers plans to update everything about its buildings to the best of its ability to meet these green standards?
Calcado: Yes. Absolutely.
Me: Is that even possible?
Calcado: Its certainly a time consuming and expensive endeavor. Over time, though, we'll do everyhting we can. I'm sure the updates will never stop. We're committed, though. We're going to do as much as we possibly can as fast as we can.