Going “Green”

Caring for God’s creation is at the core of our building philosophy.

In his Encyclical Letter Laudato si’ (LS), Pope Francis echoes both St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in their call for an ecological culture to care for God’s creation and to build up and protect our “common home” (LS 1).

In keeping with Catholic teaching, the St. John Paul II Newman Center has been designed with a core principle of being a good steward of God’s resources and gifts. The design strives to respect and conserve our environment, through good fundamentals of design and construction.

These fundamentals include:

  1. Conservation of energy through extra insulation and technology
  2. Proper use of recycled and renewable materials
  3. Low-maintenance, long-lasting structure, materials, equipment

Some details include:

  • A majority of the lighting is LED, reducing energy consumption and maintenance costs.
  • Dimming is provided in the resident suites for enhanced occupant comfort and energy savings.
  • Aluminum is used for large conductors, which is significantly lighter than copper, decreasing transportation fuel consumption to the job site.
  • Occupancy sensors are used to foster energy savings when rooms are unoccupied.
  • Many lights contain recycled metals and materials.
  • Fluorescent lamps are specified with low-mercury contents, minimizing toxic materials introduced to the building.
  • Energy efficient water source heat pump system.
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures to reduce water consumption.
  • Building management control system which can help reduce energy use.
  • Demand-controlled ventilation– meaning the building is only bringing in and conditioning the required amount of outdoor air.
  • Siphonic roof drain system allowing smaller stormwater piping in portions of the material – utilizing fewer materials.
  • Close access to and promotion of public transportation, as well as walking/bicycle trails.

We at BVH Architecture are proud to be a part of the team to create the JPII Newman Center. May our efforts at conserving natural resources and being stewards of God’s creation be an additional witness to the Person of Christ, who invites us to live in the fullness of life, both now and in eternity. As Pope Francis reminds us: “At the end, we will find ourselves face to face with the infinite beauty of God (cf. 1 Cor 13:12), and be able to read with admiration and happiness the mystery of the universe, which with us will share in unending plenitude. Even now we are journeying towards the Sabbath of eternity, the new Jerusalem, towards our common home in heaven. Jesus says: ‘I make all things new’ (Rev 21:5)” (LS 243).

This article was originally written for and published on jpiiomaha.org.

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