On Friday, Oct. 8, the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) will sponsor a one-day symposium, "Uncovering Patterns in the Sustainability Maze: An In-Depth Discussion." The all-day event will take place in UNM's Student Union Building in Lobo Rooms A and B.

As campuses nationwide attempt to confront the challenges associated with the President's Climate Commitment or ensuring a zero-carbon footprint, planners and policy analysts have begun looking for new approaches to address sustainability in developing ‘green' campus plans.

One of the objectives of the symposium is to consider whether there is an ‘ideal' sustainability system of measurement, perhaps more appropriate or better able to produce optimal design solutions than the LEED system currently in place. LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system through which UNM's College of Education building recently earned Platinum status – the second building in N.M. to do so.

"We get people expressing concern that LEED greenwashes sustainability, that there isn't great value in some of the aspects of LEED and that it's more trouble than it's worth – that maybe it costs more money than it's worth," said William Turner, director of Capital Projects.

"What I think we can do to evaluate the value of LEED is hold a conference with some of our peers in the Southwest and see how LEED is working for them; see how they're approaching sustainability and where they're getting value out of their efforts," said Turner.

"Because it's such a new system, I believe that LEED is open to suggestion about change and the more that we base recommendations on others' experience, our experience, the greater chance we'll have of making logical and meaningful changes to the system that reduce the concern about greenwashing – the concern about gaining points for the sake of points instead of having meaningful benefit out of the points that are gained," said Turner.

At the symposium, advantages and disadvantages associated with various sustainability systems of measurement and building design choices will be compared and contrasted in an effort to evaluate options to determine which may be most appropriate for respective universities or systems of higher education.

Sandia National Laboratory will be participating at the event, and presentations will be given by experts within the field. "Integrating Sustainability into the Design Process" will be presented by Partner of ZGF Architects LLP Joseph Collins, and "Technical Considerations/Data Driven Decisions" will be presented by Energy Conservation Officer with the University of Colorado at Boulder and Principal of Mode Associates Stacey White.

An interactive session in the afternoon will seek to share and record participant's perspectives, advantages, shared objectives, and determine next steps for achieving environmental sustainability in design and construction. The afternoon session will search for answers to many of the questions architects, planners, and policy analysts have been pondering regarding the relationship between design and sustainability.

The symposium is open to the public. For more information, visit: 2010 Symposium.

Media Contact: Karen Wentworth, (505) 277-5627; e-mail: kwent2@unm.edu