Set in the verdant green environs of Delhis Vasant Kunj Institutional Area, the TERI University is a striking campus. The buildings twist and turn in unexpected ways, the walls feel different and the very light within the public spaces looks different. A closer inspection of the windows, walls and roof makes you realise that the building is different from that in any other university. Add to this the fact that natural light reaches more than 70 percent of all occupied spaces, and air inside lacks the claustrophobia-inducing feeling of conventional central air-conditioning and you know that what Dr R.K. Pachauri, Nobel prize-winning Chancellor of the University and architect Sanjay Mohe have created is a novel green campus.
An educational institution is a place of learning. To that extent, educational institutes are places that help conceptualise, nurture and then cement attitudes. This is true for the green language as well. This goes for early learning preparatory schools, primary education centres, secondary schools and indeed centres of higher education. The earlier the green language begins, the better, says brand expert, Harish Bijoor. As Dr Rajiv Seth, registrar of TERI puts it, Just seeing a green campus, studying in it, and living in it, stimulates younger minds to not only carry the message forward, but also to research in newer methods of energy contribution.
With the Kyoto and Copenhagen summits bringing a public recognition of the ills of environmental pollution, going green is increasingly becoming a necessity.
Installing CFLs instead of regular bulbs, attempting rainwater harvesting or wastewater management are passe. Technology and green architecture are now making a difference to every facet of a campus, boosting energy efficiency by as much as 60 percent and water efficiency by 80 percent.
New Campus Green
New universities can go green right from the beginning. One should conceive the idea of going green from the time of site selection and follow it through the entire development process. The green concept has to be conceived in totality not as an add-on feature, says Mohe.
The new University of California campus at Merced, is a good example of going green from conception. Careful selection of the site, helped in conserving more than 26,000 acres of native vernal pool grasslands, points out Donna Birch Trahan, senior public information representative UC Merced. The university was committed to getting a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED green building rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council) Gold certification.
It plans to increase sustainability by producing the same amount of renewable energy it consumes, minimising the generation of solid waste, recycling and achieving carbon neutrality.
In UK, University of Nottinghams new Jubilee Campus is the only one to receive the prestigious Green Flag, usually awarded to public parks and spaces. One of its striking features is the carpet of low-growing alpine plants that covers its roof to maintain a steady temperature much better than traditional insulation.