Design LEEDers

Design LEEDers“I have always believed in, and pursued opportunities to make our buildings operate more efficiently,” says Terry Morse, PE, of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) campus.

Morse, director of architecture, engineering, and construction in the Office of Facilities and Operations, says he has always been interested in alternative and renewable sources of energy. As a senior in college, he installed a solar heating system for domestic water on his parents’ house.

Now having been with the University since 1989 and a member of the University’s Sustainability Steering Committee since its inception in 2008, Morse is taking strides to make the campus greener and setting an example with his office.

Here are some of their current sustainability initiatives:

Green Projects

Did You Know?

Replace older, less-efficient lighting with newer types of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). CFLs and LEDs use about 25 to 80 percent less energy and last three to 25 times longer than the typical incandescent bulb (U.S. Department of Energy).
Examine heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment in addition to lighting, plumbing, and other infrastructure systems to identify deficiencies and needed repairs. Existing buildings 20 years and older make up more than 70 percent of the built environment by square footage and offer opportunities to conserve energy and water as well as provide healthier, more productive work environments.
Examine campus heating and cooling systems for ways to save heat and energy. Consider setting thermostats at 68 degrees for heating and 78 degrees for cooling.
Certify every new building and major renovation(s) with the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. LEED certification helps save money, conserve energy, reduce water consumption, improve indoor air quality, and make better building material choices.
Reset every personal office computer to a central copier/printer. Each year, the U.S. uses 85.5 million tons of paper, of which we recycle only 22 percent or 19 million tons. Of the remaining paper, we could recycle up to 70 percent or 46 million tons, saving 782 million trees.
Consolidate office environments with open space and replace flat file storage with electronic storage. Open office environments reduce electricity and heating costs while improving office communication.
Support flexible work schedules such as working 80 hours in nine days. Alternative work schedules reduce the number of vehicles on the road, which decreases air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and fossil fuel consumption.

So how do these initiatives benefit the campus?

“They reduce energy costs and conserve natural resources,” Morse says. “Green initiatives create a healthier, more people-friendly indoor environment and lead to more interesting and attractive buildings and work spaces. Ultimately, these changes attract more faculty, staff, and students by creating more desirable places to work and study.”

As chair of the design and construction subcommittee of the Sustainability Steering Committee, Morse upholds a mission to minimize the net impact of the University’s built environment on the natural environment through strategic projects, new construction, and major renovations to campus buildings and infrastructure.

Morse adds that as an academic institution, it’s important that the University take the lead in exploring ways to create more sustainable work environments and more efficient buildings, which includes using a larger percentage of renewable materials and promoting collegiality and collaboration.

In the end, “We gain happier and healthier faculty, staff, and students,” Morse says.

But Morse’s office isn’t the only one that can make a difference and help support sustainable work environments.

As Morse says, “The best ideas come from people who are not so-called ‘experts.’ ”

Morse asks the University community to look around their environment and brainstorm ways to reduce energy costs and conserve resources. If you have suggestions, email

“The most important thing to recognize is that sustainable initiatives start with a willingness and commitment to make a change in one’s lifestyle,” Morse says. “One has to be open to ideas such as open office environments, shared resources, flexible working hours, telecommuting, alternative transportation, and more.”

— Tracy Gnadinger

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