Alter Plans discussed at forum

By: Lydia Rogers ~Staff Writer~

Plans for the Alter Hall renovations were discussed in an information session Friday, January 31st in Smith Hall. Executive Director for Physical Plant, David Lococo and Joseph Kohrs, president of KLF Engineers, held an open dialogue with students about what sustainability options were available based on economic reasoning.

“One of the primary outcomes of the discussion was to provide the students a perspective on the different energy saving options available for Alter from an economic standpoint,” Lococo said.

Kohrs took a philosophical approach when discussing sustainability possibilities. “Philosophy in sustainability choices means making economically justifiable choices,” he said. Although some sustainability options seem appealing and effective, such as geothermal energy, they may not be the most economically reasonable choice when considering the payback on an investment.

Kohrs also discussed the economic reasoning behind how much influence the student body will have over the new sustainable design. He discussed the importance of a design that is not only accessible to students, but also cost conscious. Operable windows in the classrooms would not be a justifiable option because, although students would be allowed some control, it could result in higher costs if students did not use them wisely.

In terms of a design that is cost efficient as well as student interactive, Kohrs discussed a monitoring system that would allow students in Alter to keep track of the energy levels in the building at any given time depending on factors such as when the lights are turned on or off. “This will allow students to see their impact on a macro level,” Kohrs said.

“Monitoring will be part of the final design. The quantity and location of monitoring stations is dependent on meeting the overall budget for construction,” Lococo said.

There are a number of other sustainable features that were possible for Alter’s new design.

“A key part of sustainability is the reuse of materials,” Lococo said. “We are changing the skin of the building and the interior walls, but not the structure. We want to create a building that contributes to and doesn’t distract from the teaching environment.”

Lococo discussed the importance of being economically justified while bringing about an educational output. He presented outdoor classrooms as an option because fresh air has been found to be conducive to a healthy learning environment.

It is also in the plan to redesign the layout of the interior to change the style of the classrooms.

“They will now be less cookie-cutter and more flexible,” Lococo said. “This will make the building more durable in the long-term.”

Other sustainability features will include maximized insulation, LED lighting and a heat recovery system.

As of now, the renovations are planned to start in the spring with the approval of the Board of Trustees. However, it ultimately relies on how and when they decide to use the funds. Ideally, the renovations would begin in March and conclude in August