Keith Clay, an IU biology professor and member of the Bloomington Commission on Sustainability, recently told the commission that IU has approved construction of a Research and Teaching Preserve, which will be built with environmental considerations in mind.

"It should be a first, but not a last, for IU, and I think that the IU architects and engineers are pretty excited about this project," said Clay.

The project has been in the works for few years and was not originally intended as a "green" building, said Clay, who was involved with a Commitment to Excellence proposal to the IU Board of Trustees in 2002.

"The proposal would support four new faculty members and build a modest lab for teaching and research in the Griffy Woods portion of the IU Research and Teaching Preserve," Clay said. "This proposal was funded, and they committed approximately $800,000 for the building project, including site preparation, equipment, communications infrastructure, etc."

The project took a while to come to fruition, but things seem to be moving at a faster pace, Clay said. Last fall the trustees approved the site for the facility, near the northwest corner of University Lake. Last month they approved the building's preliminary design.

"IU architect Bob Meadows suggested that this project could be done as a green building and that it could provide an example and testing ground for future projects," Clay said. "It is unclear at present, but the roof may be constructed using photovoltaic shingles to generate electricity or planted with vegetation to create a real 'green' roof."

Most importantly, though, he said the building will be a base for teaching and research in the environmental sciences. It will not only support these activities but could be a subject for teaching and research.

A group of students in Heather Reynolds' biology course City as Ecosystem are already using the project as the basis of a Website and other related educational and service-learning activities.

Other methods and models of alternative energy generation and eco-architecture are being explored and worked into the preserve's design.

Clay highlighted some of the main noteworthy features.

"The building site is an abandoned quarry, so we will be recycling a previously disturbed site," he said. "Much of the construction will be with recycled steel, which will be durable, long-lasting and mold and mildew free."

The building will maximize passive solar heating and lighting with windows facing south and west. Natural, indirect lighting will minimize electric power needs for lighting.

"Much of the heating and cooling requirements will be met by a geothermal, closed-loop recirculating system that will run along the bottom of University Lake," Clay said. "The water will be cooler than air temperature in the summer but warmer in winter. Cornell University is heated and cooled in a similar manner using one of the Finger Lakes."

The building's footprint will be minimal, and there will be no landscaping. Instead, the building will blend into the forest habitat.

"Vehicle access will be possible, but we will be encouraging people to access the building by foot, bike or electric cart," Clay said.

The preserve will even feature less familiar innovations that often strike less eco-oriented folks as impractical or even disturbing.

"There will be two unisex bathrooms with composting toilets to obviate need for sewer hookups, as there are none at the site anyway," Clay said.


The new City Utilities Building will be built with attention to principles of sustainability and efficiency, according to a staff report delivered to the Bloomington Commission on Sustainability. The new facility will replace the building at South Henderson Street and Miller Drive that was damaged by fire in 2003.

Utilities Director Patrick Murphy and architects from Indianapolis unveiled the building plans at a Utilities Service Board meeting on April 3. Construction is scheduled for late July. It is expected to be complete by June 2007.

Aspects of environmental design that will go into the 22,000-square-foot building include rain gardens on site to collect and filter stormwater. Skylights will allow for natural lighting and reduced heating costs will be achieved through high-efficiency energy and heating and cooling systems.

Recycled steel and aluminum will be used. To support local business, as well as to reduce the need for long-distance transportation, local materials like limestone will be given preference.

Mylo Roze can be reached at .