University of Vermont

University Communications

Official Opening, Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for UVM's Aiken Center Held April 27

Gov. Shumlin, Lola Aiken, other dignitaries scheduled to attend

Aiken Center
(Photo: Sally McCay)

An official opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the University of Vermont’s renovated George D. Aiken Center, perhaps the most energy efficient renovation in American higher education, will be held on Friday, April 27 at 1:30 p.m. at the front of the building near the Davis Center circle.

The Aiken Center is the home of UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. The building opened for classes in January 2012 after undergoing an 18-month, $13 million rehab. 

After the ceremony, tours of the building will be led by Rubenstein School students and faculty and by UVM staff involved in its design and construction.

Governor Peter Shumlin, UVM interim president John Bramley, chair of the Rubenstein School board of advisors Mark Biedron, Rubenstein School dean Mary Watzin, Gary Hawley, a faculty member at the Rubenstein School, and Matt Beam, a graduate student there, will make brief remarks.

Representatives from Senator Patrick Leahy’s, Senator Bernie Sanders’ and Congressman Peter Welch’s staff will also attend and speak briefly. 

Lola Aiken, widow of former Vermont governor and senator George D. Aiken, will be present, as will the previous four deans of the Rubenstein School and its predecessor, the School of Natural Resources. Members of UVM's administrative and academic leadership are also expected to attend. 

At the ceremony, the Aiken Center’s “dashboard” display, exhibiting data gathered by more than 200 sensors in the building, will make its debut. The building’s “eco-machine,” which will treat the Aiken Center’s wastewater, is also nearing completion. Most of the flora and fauna have been added; the system is expected to come online during the summer.  

Thanks to a variety of innovative design features, the renovated Aiken Center is modeled to be 62 percent more energy efficient than the original building, built in 1982, reducing its energy use from 89 kBTU’s per square foot per year, the standard measure of a building’s energy use, to 34, despite adding air conditioning, which the original building lacked.

That makes the building, designed by Maclay Architects of Waitsfield, Vt., one of the most energy efficient renovations in the United States, and perhaps the most efficient rehab on a college campus, according to experts at the New Buildings Institute, which recently completed a study of the 50 most energy-efficient, retrofitted building the U.S. and Australia.  

The building also boasts a variety of green features, in addition to the sensor and dashboard display and eco-machine: a green roof with eight separate watersheds; twenty-seven thousand board feet of Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood paneling from nine different tree species; a 50 percent increase in the size of existing windows and significant addition of new ones; separate systems for heating/cooling the building and ventilating it; installation of 17 solar trackers associated with the building, and locally sourced building materials. The building’s design also benefitted from significant input from students.