The term sustainability is synonymous with terms like “high performance buildings,” “holistic design,” “green buildings,” and “whole building design”. There is, however, no true industry standard of sustainability and sustainability does not refer to just buildings. Sustainability is generally deﬁned as meeting the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs; it generally encompasses three areas of design and construction: environmental responsibility, energy conservation, and improved human health and performance.
Academic institutions can play a profound role in advancing the acceptance of sustainable thoughts and actions. UW-Green Bay, like other colleges and universities, has tremendous potential to increase peoples’ understanding of sustainability, through traditional educational offerings but also through its actions, policies, and plans for the built environment. The campus already practices many approaches to sustainability, some in an exemplary manner. Use of renewable energy at MAC Hall, and restoration and conservation work at the arboretum represent a strong commitment to environmental awareness.
The University of Wisconsin–Green Bay campus, UW System Administration and Department of State Facilities has long promoted design and construction practices that exceed the minimum standards required by building and energy codes in the state.
Plans to construct new buildings on campus offer many opportunities to apply ecological design principles. The design of MAC Hall serves as an example of how a building form generated in response to solar orientation and daylighting creates successful outdoor spaces that promote sound campus planning concepts. Moreover, in the face of growing environmental hazards, increasingly scarce and costly resources, and a community bias toward protecting the earth and its inhabitants, it is shortsighted to do otherwise. Recognition of efforts like the “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED) program developed through the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) contributes to a national trend that demands buildings with efficient energy and mechanical systems that also satisfy the need for adaptability and accessibility.
While some of the issues, opportunities, and constraints are unique to UW-Green Bay because of the specific climate, geography, and social culture of the Green Bay region, it can rely on some of the over-arching principles developed by organization and agencies as a starting point for discussions and action. Resources such as University Leaders for a Sustain-able Future (ULS) offer opportunities specifically for campuses and universities to continue learning about sustainability in the unique context that exists at institutions of higher learning.
Other university campuses can also serve as models. One such example is Penn State, which has instituted campus-wide sustainability practices and policies called “Blue, White, and Green." The major components of this plan focus on recycling, re-use, and research on sustainable systems. They connect the campus to community through shared operations and recycling resources.
The Master Plan explores sustainability through each individual element of the campus plan and the integration of individual parts into a cohesive whole. Simplification of the wayfinding and navigation system has the potential to reduce unnecessary drive time through campus and aid in clear public transportation routes within the campus boundaries. Building opportunities are conceptually located near existing utility tunnels and are often placed as additions to existing buildings to reduce the materials and resources necessary for construction. The density of the inner core of campus is increased, containing the footprint of the academic buildings to a core location. Parking is expanded by reconfiguring lots and buffer strips are presented as one method of mitigating the urban heat island, potentially reducing storm water run-off , and increasing the “green” appearance of campus.
The concept of sustainability can extend beyond the physical implications of this Master Plan and can include a holistic approach to classroom planning and management, student academic programming, areas of research and education, and continuation of the mission statement of the university, which is based on the connection of academics to real-life.