Archive for April, 2015

LEED Gold Awarded to the Native American Cultural Center


NAU’s Native American Cultural Center was recently awarded LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED rating system is an internationally recognized program that provides certification for buildings, communities, and homes with exceptional environmental and health performance demonstrated throughout the design, construction, and operational processes.

This project was completed in 2011, thanks to allocations from general university funds, and approximately $3 million in donations—including a $2 million donation from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. The building integrated Native American design and sustainability principles provided by input from neighboring Native American tribes throughout the design and construction phases of development.

The original concept for the center was to create a space that serves a bigger purpose, and provides an avenue for individuals and groups to be educated about the traditional knowledge of Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples. “This is reflected within the environmental elements of the center,” says Kathleen Frank, director of the Native American Cultural Center. “Preserve what is around you, and utilize the resources that surround you.”

The center is a one-of-a-kind gathering place for Native American students and organizations from all Arizona tribes. These students can visit the center to receive tribal mentorship, connect with their peers, and re-connect with their cultures and traditions. It is an important resource for the Flagstaff community and all students on campus.  Workspaces, computers, academic support resources, and meeting spaces are available to all students who visit the cultural center.

Some of the sustainable elements incorporated into the Native American Cultural Center are highlighted below.

Passive Solar Design

  • Exterior blinds and interior roller shades help to mitigate solar heat gain in the summer months.

Energy Efficiency

  • Daylighting throughout the building reduces the need for artificial lighting during the day.
  • High-efficiency light fixtures and occupancy-sensing technology optimizes lighting power density and energy use throughout the facility.


  • More than 75% of construction material waste was diverted from landfills.
  • Use of building materials with recycled content and that have been extracted, harvested, or recovered, as well as manufactured within 500 miles.

Indoor Environmental Air Quality

  • Fresh outdoor air is delivered to all regularly occupied spaces at levels 30% greater than building code requirements to maximize occupant comfort and reduce indoor pollutants.
  • Low VOC materials are used throughout the facility to maximize the indoor air quality.

Reduced Building Impact

  • In-house recycling programs divert building-occupant waste from landfills.
  • The site’s use of native vegetation complements a network of landscaping elements that capture rainwater to recharge the aquifer with naturally treated stormwater.

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Green Fund 2014 Accomplishments!

2014 was a busy year for Northern Arizona University’s Green Fund! The Green Fund, a campus committee supported by student fees and governed by both student and faculty members, holds the primary vision of creating a culture of sustainability on campus, increasing student engagement, and boosting energy and water efficiency on campus.

In the last year, the fund approved projects that led to many groundbreaking university-wide improvements.

2014 accomplishments include:

The Centralized Irrigation Project, a $53,626 project that supplements the universities efforts to increase resource efficiency and minimize unnecessary water use. This cutting edge technology monitors soil moisture levels to prevent overwatering.

“The purpose is to reduce the water consumption of NAU landscaping through the installation of a centralized irrigation system.” —Nick Koressel, Program Coordinator for Green NAU Energy Initiative

The Global Peace and Tolerance Garden to be constructed at the new International Pavilion, addresses the aspiration for civic engagement that is at the heart of the Green Fund’s mission. The $157,705 project supports this LEED Platinum building through the construction of a water efficient garden and installation of environmental signage.

“The idea is to engage students in a conversation about bringing down cultural barriers.” —Dylan Rust, Director of Global Student Life

The Solar Hot Air Heaters is a $10,352 project that funded a technology that supplements the traditional natural gas heating system. Located on Property Surplus, the six solar-powered hot air heaters reduce NAU’s CO2 emissions by 3 tons a year. This project is the start of a new renewable heating option for the campus.

“[This project is] a great step in lessening our dependence on fossil fuels for our heating needs.” —Scott Perelstein, Director of NAU Operations

The Eco-Reps serve as representatives for their peers and community by providing education on how to live a more sustainable life in campus residential buildings. This $24,085 project assists and encourages students in their everyday lifestyle choices and increases awareness on individual environmental impact.

“The goal is to promote behavior changes that will continue throughout their time at NAU and beyond the time they live on campus.” —Cori Cusker, Residence Life Sustainability Coordinator

Greening Supplemental Instruction is a $8,689 project that reduces the use of paper by limiting paper handouts  and providing digital information instead. The supplemental instruction program’s efforts to reduce paper acts as an environmental example across campus.

“[The] goal was to reduce paper usage by ⅓ in the first semester and we exceeded our goal by an additional third.” —Evin Deschamps, Assistant Director, Student Learning Centers

The Weigh Scales are scales added to trash trucks that measure the solid waste and recycling created on campus. This $78,771 project quantifies the amount of waste and renewables in order to strive for improvements for a better waste-reduction program.

“One of the major goals for being able to quantify solid waste and recycling is to improve our waste minimization strategies.” —Avi Henn, Program Coordinator for Green NAU Energy Initiative

The Oil Refinery uses containers and pumps to store most of Facility Service’s Transportation grades of oil allowing them to use a vendor that recycles the oil. This $3,500 project, requires less oil to be extracted, transported and thrown away; thus, contributing to the conservation of oil.

“What’s great about this project is that the oil is rerefined, so we can use it over and over again at the same quality.” —Susan Williams, Professor of Management Science

In the last two semesters the fund has made major strides towards reductions in energy consumption campus wide. The projects approved this year have been striving to make NAU a more sustainable campus and improve the campus’ environmental impact on the community. Perhaps more noteworthy is the achievement of actively engaging students and faculty in the conversation of what sustainability means for the future of Northern Arizona University.

What’s in store for the Green Fund in 2015? 2015 sparks the evolution of the NAU Green Fund from a static fund to a revolving fund mirroring the work of a hundred campus’ nationwide. The Green Fund sees the prospect of major solar projects in the near future. In order for the Green Fund to grow and continue to make progress they need students and faculty to participate in these important endeavors.

Green Fund Committee 2014

Submit a project proposal and/or apply to be on next year’s committee by visiting NAU.EDU/GREENFUND.

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