Monday, June 14, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
From Page 1
And while Newman would not
definitively say that the regents were
planning to lower the endowment
payout rule, she said they would likely
vote on a change this summer.
"I think it will probably come
before the Board in June or July,"
= If the change is to go into effect
for the upcoming year, the June tim-
ing would coincide with the Board of
Regents' approval for the University's
2010-2011 budget and student tuition
rates, which is scheduled to take place
later this week.
From Page 2
ting a more sustainable building, this
decision doesn't really get you a lot...
We were already pretty green in our
He added that the previous stan-
dard for sustainability in University
construction already brought build-
ings about 75 percent of the way to the
new LEED silver standard.
Peggy Matta, the chair of the Green
Schools Committee for the Detroit
regional chapter of the USGBC, said
having an outside source confirm the
University's efforts in creating a sus-
tainable campus is a valuable form of
"(It's important to have) somebody
that's not you corroborating the fact
that you've built the building to the
design standards you say you have,"
Matta said. "There are other green
systems out there but they're all self-
certifying ... but that doesn't go far
enough we think."
To stress the importance of green
buildings, the USGBC website reports
that buildings are responsible for 38.9
percent of primary energy use, 38
percent of carbon dioxide emissions,
72 percent of electricity consumption
and 13.6 percent of potable water use
in the U.S.
LEED-accredited professional Jan
Culbertson is a senior principal at A3C
Collaborative Architecture located on
East Huron Street in Ann Arbor.
Culbertson said when she and part-
ner Dan Jacobs first ventured into the
world of sustainable architecture in
the 1970s, the concept was more of a
"counterculture" idea. Now, she said,
designing buildings to "perform" to
certain standards of sustainability is
becoming the norm.
"(The USGBC) transformed the
whole construction industry by pro-
viding that rating system," she said.
"There's this demand for green build-
ings and (they're) driving it."
Both the budget and tuition rates
can be affected by the amount of
money available from the University's
endowment, which partially pays for
a wide variety of expenses at the Uni-
versity, including student financial aid
and program support in certain areas
According to the University's Office
of Public Affairs and Media Relations'
website, the endowment contributed
$244 million to help cover expenses
in the University's budget last year.
The agenda for the University's
Board of Regents June meeting this
Thursday will be posted online at
Asked about the topic last week,
University spokeswoman Kelly Cun-
ningham declined to comment on
Prior to this new commitment, the
University had already received two
LEED certifications for campus build-
ings - a gold certification in 1994 for
the Dana Building, home of the School
of Natural Resources and Environ-
ment, and a silver certification earlier
this year for the new Stephen M. Ross
School of Business. Both of those cer-
tifications, however, were based on
an older rating system, whereas new
construction will meet the silver stan-
dard of the new system, dubbed LEED
2009, according to Alexander.
Culbertson said the new system
enforces prerequisites that buildings
must meet in order to even qualify for
certification, including pollution pre-
vention during construction, a 20-per-
cent water use reduction, a 10-percent
improvement in energy efficiency over
the national standard, storage and col-
lection of recyclables and a no-smok-
ing policy both inside the building and
within a certain distance outside the
Culbertson added that the new
system also weighs points differently
in a way that emphasizes energy effi-
ciency and carbon dioxide emissions
reduction, and it offers bonus points
for buildings that address regionally
specific environmental priorities.
Alexander said the improvements
of LEED 2009 are partially why Uni-
versity President Mary Sue Coleman
and the Environmental Sustainability
Executive Council made this commit-
"There's been kind of this building
momentum over the years and when
their version 2009 came out and we
looked at it, it really is a much more
improved system over the earlier ver-
sions," Alexander said.
The School of Natural Resources
and Environment website details the
numerous technologies and materials
used in the "greening of Dana" that
make the building a prime example of
a sustainable building, including the
use of solar power, a radiant cooling
system, insulation, mechanical and
the topic, saying she couldn't confirm
anything about the potential change.
The University's endowment cur-
rently pays out five percent of its
overall value annually. However, the
University's total endowment value
is determined by a seven year rolling
average calculated at the end of every
fiscal quarter, which means that the
percent paid out of the endowment
may be slightly more or less than five
percent of its current marketvalue.
The University's seven year rolling
average procedure replaced a three
year rolling average procedure in
2006 as a way to provide more stable
payouts against market unpredict-
ability. Prior to its three year rolling
average policy, the University paid out
the full interest earned on its invest-
In an April interview, University
President Mary Sue Coleman said dis-
cussions around the topic were a rou-
tine evaluation based on prior action
taken by the University's Board of
"We changed from a three year
rolling average to a seven year roll-
ing average about four years ago,"
Coleman said in April. "And so in that
action item, we did four years ago,
we said periodically we wanted to go
back and look at just the rule itself of
five percent, so that's the discussion
we've been having."
In the same interview, Coleman
said in evaluating the spending rule,
it's important to keep in mind that
the endowment serves not only the
University's current needs but also its
"We're trying to balance paying
for the future with providing enough
money for the units today and that's a
tricky balance," Coleman said.
However, at the time, Coleman
would not say whether an increase or
decrease would be more likely.
In an interview on the same day,
Tim Slottow, executive vice president
and chief financial officer, also refused
to state explicitly whether an increase
or decrease might be forthcoming.
However, until asked about the pos-
sibility of increasing the University's
endowment payout, Slottow only dis-
cussed the possibility of a decrease,
adding that it might make more sense
for the University at the present.
Construction at the University Law School will be certifed as a LEED silver project.
electrical systems that are control-
lable in individual work spaces, dual
flush toilets, sensor-activated faucets
and low-flow plumbing fixtures.
Alexander said the Dana building
costs slightly more to maintain than
is expected for future construction
"We do have a little history on Dana
on the cost to maintain some of the
systems," he said, "and it is a little bit
higher because we've got things like
composting toilets that we normally
don't deal with ... so the cost goes up
He added that some of the more
standard ways to achieve LEED cer-
tification like having extra insulation
and using more efficient fan systems
won't substantially affect mainte-
According to Alexander, the only
major opposition to the new initiative
is fueled by worry over increased con-
struction costs, which he estimated
would be about a two-to-four-percent
"In this day and age, cost is always
something you have to overcome," he
said. "The decision was made that the
benefits outweighed the costs."
Culbertson said the increased con-
struction costs will be more than
compensated in the long run through
money-saving sustainable technology.
According to the USBGC website,
an investment of about two percent
of construction costs in green build-
ing design will ultimately result in an
overall saving of about 20 percent of
the total construction costs over time.
Culbertson said this type of major
commitment to sustainability in
buildings is not groundbreaking and,
in fact, has become quite popular and
continues to grow.
"It's the way we should be building
anyway," she said.
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