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.
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.
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-Machine that hold communities of aquatic micro-organisms, invertebrates, and wetland plants. This living laboratory successfully treated 760,000 gallons of the building's wastewater over 5 years. As part of Phase 2 of the evolution of the Eco-Machine, faculty and students are currently researching improvements to the wastewater treatment and nutrient recovery process.
On up to the third floor, trimmed in the blues of the Earth's atmosphere, you will find faculty and staff offices, graduate student space, and conference rooms. 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 and students use the roof and its drainage water to test stormwater management strategies.
More Aiken in the News
Spring 2012 UVM Vermont Quarterly article "Renovated Aiken a Model of Efficiency".
March 2012 The Chronicle of Higher Education article on the green renovated Aiken Center.
March 2012 UVM Communications video of the process of certified wood from Jericho Research Forest to finished Aiken Center.
January 2012 UVM Communications article "Reborn Aiken Center an Energy Star; Serves as National Model for Green Renovations".
January 2011 UVM Communications video of the Aiken Center timber harvest at Jericho Research Forest.