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S G N I D L I U B CHAPTER 3

Though we may love the outdoors, on average, we spend approximately 70% of our lives inside. Buildings have become our natural habitat and have a profound impact on our lives and a great impact on the environment, both locally and globally. Buildings account for nearly 40% of total energy use, and our resource consumption and the waste generation attributed to construction of buildings is also very significant. So campus buildings offer one of the greatest opportunities for improvement when it comes to making universities more sustainable. University building portfolios generally have a varied selection of new and old buildings. Some of these are heritage listed buildings – judged to be of national importance in terms of architectural or historic interest – which can make upgrades difficult to implement. Retrofitting an existing building can often be more cost-effective than building a new facility, though with existing buildings there are opportunities to retrofit windows, roof, and heating systems all of which often have shorter lifespans than the buildings themselves. Clever design can greatly influence the operational costs once a building has been erected or retrofitted. Energy and water consumption are obvious areas of focus and monitoring and auditing these will further reduce consumption and create even more monetary savings. Informing building users how to use the building optimally is fundamental to ensuring that buildings operate to their peak performance abilities. The real challenge lies in convincing university management to invest in more sustainable buildings which reduce long term costs. It is important to understand and effectively communicate the benefits, which include greater resource efficiency and associated cost savings, as well as better health and productivity for employees and students.

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IARU - Green Guide for Universities – pathways towards sustainability