Building a green MSU

“I can drive a hybrid but if I am not living in an energy efficient building, then that offsets what good I am doing,” said Agnes Pohl, an architecture student and vice president of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). “[Building green] is the biggest thing we can do right now in terms of affecting our global impact.”

Through USGBC students at MSU have a chance at reducing energy and water costs and increasing the overall sustainability of buildings on campus. A green building is a building that is energy efficient and has little water waste, but it is “also a place that is inspiring for people to live in,” Pohl said. Since 60 percent of state-owned buildings are on University campuses, by advocating for green buildings on campus students have a chance to directly affect how tax money is spent.

The club is currently working on making the SUB a Leadership in Energy and

Environment Design (LEED) certified building. “If the university chose to become a green campus that would make a huge statement not only to the students but the community as well,” Pohl said.

Last year the University of Montana changed a small building to become LEED certified and in the first year saved an estimated $14,000. Currently the buildings on MSU campus that are LEED certified are Cooley Laboratory, Gaines Hall and the new Jabs Hall.

The USGBC chapter hosts events where students have a chance to speak and learn from professionals in various fields of the green building movement. The club has taken tours of green buildings with the architects and engineers who designed them. The owner of Refuge, a sustainable building center in town, recently gave a presentation on sustainable materials to the club. The club also sent a group of students from MSU to the Montana chapter’s annual summit in Big Sky, where Gov. Steve Bullock spoke about the green building movement and its importance and influence on the state. A few MSU students presented their own work on sustainable buildings at the conference.

Next year the club hopes to send students to the iInternational USGBC conference which typically has over 23,000 participants. Through USGBC, students can also gain school credit by completing independent studies pertaining to green building structure and development.

On April 3, the club will host a training to prepare students to receive a green associate certificate which moves students toward becoming a LEED accredited professional.

Blake Bjornson, a mechanical engineer and the president of USGBC said, “The ultimate goal is that we become more efficient and use fewer dollars to maintain our buildings. If we have more efficient buildings less of our tax dollars and tuition will be spent on building maintenance and that is something everyone can get behind.”

The general goals of USGBC are networking students with professionals, providing training and hands on experience, as well as working to inspire MSU to become a greener campus. The club is looking for students of all skill levels and degrees. USGBC meets the first and third Monday of the month at noon in the SUB. For more information, contact msuusgbc@usgbcmontana.org.