George D. Aiken Center: A Green Renovated Building
The main home of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, the George D. Aiken Center opened in 1982. The building's name honors Vermont's distinguished late senator and governor.
In 2012, the School completed reconstruction on a green renovated Aiken Center, a facility with U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum status—their highest ranking. Many years ago, our Rubenstein School community envisioned a living building that allows us to have a smaller, healthier footprint and to demonstrate our collective commitment to a more sustainable world. The Aiken Center now challenges and educates RSENR and UVM communities and visitors about what it means to live within the limits of our natural world. Students played a central role in the process. Learn about student projects on the Greening of Aiken class wiki.
Each floor of the Aiken Center represents a component of our natural world, the Earth. The first floor, which houses naturally lit and comfortably ventilated classrooms, a 100-seat lecture hall, student lounge, and brick and wood-trimmed atrium, represents the red core of the Earth.
Spiraling up the central staircase, you emerge onto the second floor which symbolizes the Earth's surface with the lush green of forests and the deep blue of rivers running through the hallways' terrazzo flooring. The second floor is home to the Dean's Office, faculty and staff offices, laboratory style classroom, and Spatial Analysis Laboratory. A glass solarium on the south side of the building is a warm, welcoming entrance to the Aiken Center and provides casual meeting areas formed by stonewalls and tropical vegetation.
At the eastern end of the solarium, a window looks into large tanks of the Eco-MachineTM that hold communities of aquatic micro-organisms, invertebrates, and wetland plants working in concert to treat the building's wastewater and recycle it for flushing toilets. Faculty, staff and students research improvements to the Eco-Machine and the wastewater treatment process.
On up to the third floor, trimmed in the blues of the Earth's atmosphere, you will find faculty and staff offices, conference rooms, and Park Studies Laboratory. Throughout the building, beautifully finished wood trim made from trees harvested at our Forest Stewardship Council- (FSC-) certified Jericho Research Forest links us closely to the forest. Tipping buckets, lining a third floor hallway, fill with rainwater and snowmelt from the roof to help us learn how to manage and reduce stormwater run-off.
Finally, the Aiken Center's green roof is comprised of eight small watersheds, six of which are planted with flats of vegetation. Faculty, staff and students use the roof and its drainage water to test stormwater management strategies.