Pergolis Classroom

Baruch College’s Sustainable Classroom:
A Glimpse Into Real Estate Future

College’s Real Estate Roadmap to Greenest Campus in the Nation
By Charlotte Cuthbertson Epoch Times Staff Jun 18, 2009

A sustainable classroom, set to become the norm at Baruch College, CUNY, is the beginning of a push to become the top green campus in the nation.

The Pergolis classroom is a prototype born out of the Steven L. Newman real estate division of the college.

It’s not just about energy efficient light bulbs, but also draws in natural light. The chairs sport recycled covers, the paint, glues, and finishes are non-toxic, the carpet is recycled, and the podium is a whole new generation of smart technology.

Altogether it makes a palpable difference as soon as you walk in the door. “The air is different, the feel is different,” said Jack Nyman, the institute’s director. “It’s really a statement about where the college is going and a statement to the real estate industry.”

According to a recent study by McGraw-Hill, the real estate industry is also turning green. The report said 70 percent of consumers would be more inclined to purchase a green home in a down market.

“Green building is now a multinational, global-level phenomenon,” the report said. “It is likely that green will reach the mainstream of the global marketplace and achieve critical mass.”

Nyman said he was one of the first to get into sustainable real estate. “One of my first speeches to the [institute’s] board, they thought I was some guy straight out of the Woodstock days,” he said.

Now, perspectives have broadened “They’re looking at our nation’s minds and resources as one nation, one heart, resources together,” he said. “In the old days everyone did their own thing.”

Nyman said the change has come from both an understanding of some of the scientific findings of global warming and the emotional results of seeing polar bears die and penguins unable to get food.

“Sustainability is a way to protect how we live and work,” he said. “It’s a consciousness long overdue.”

Jim Lloyd, Baruch’s assistant VP in campus operations, has a unique perspective with his background in engineering and accounting. Following a stint at Oregon State University, where he greened up the campus, he now has a five-year vision for Baruch—he wants all Baruch buildings to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified.

Lloyd said the cost of construction and design for the Pergolis classroom totalled $127,000, the same price as it would have cost to construct a non-sustainable one; therefore, “cost is a big misconception people have”.

“The first thing when renovating is to try to minimize the demolition debris as much as we can”, Lloyd said. The only thing ripped out of the Pergolis room was the carpet.

He said he switched onto sustainable design when he met Bill McDonough who co-authored the book Cradle to Cradle.

“He goes beyond sustainability,” said Lloyd. “He’s a real inspiration for me.”

Frank Antonucci, one of the project managers for the classroom said the smart technology is state-of-the-art. “The podium was custom made,” he said. “The technology can be run remotely over the internet by the media services team.”

Nyman applauded Richard Pergolis’ vision for the classroom, summing him up with a Chinese proverb: “To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation”.

Pergolis is the co-chair of the advisory board at the Real Estate Institute.

Sustainability is about listening, Nyman said. “When I was a kid I wanted to be a car designer,” he said. “It gave me a glimpse to the future, and this classroom is a glimpse into the future of the real estate industry.”

The classroom is now ready to be filled with students taking courses in sustainability over the summer and next semester.

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