Truett Seminary to Receive Plaque for International Environmental Leadership

Aug. 10, 2009

Contact:Terry Goodrich, Assistant Director of Media Communications, (254) 710-3321

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WACO, Texas -- Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary, which recently earned a designation for international leadership in energy and environmental design, will be awarded a certificate on Aug. 27 for its achievement.

A plaque will be presented to Dr. David Garland, Baylor's interim president and dean of Truett Seminary, by a representative of the U.S. Green Building Council during a celebration ceremony in the seminary's Paul W. Powell Chapel.

Baylor is the first Texas university and the eighth higher education institution internationally to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification in the existing buildings ratings system. The system was established by the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, said Ashley Katz, the council's communications manager.

Truett Seminary is the first building to earn the certification in McLennan County, said Dr. Reagan Ramsower, Baylor's vice president for finance and administration.

Besides helping the environment, saving money and providing a pleasant atmosphere for faculty and staff, the LEED certification may help attract new students.

A 2008 survey by The Princeton Review showed that 63 percent of more than 10,300 college applicants and their parents surveyed valued having information about a university's commitment to the environment. A higher percentage of students (24 percent) than parents (18 percent) said the information would influence their choice of college strongly, according to The Princeton Review.

But most important is that environmental responsibility is a way of being Christian stewards, said Dr. David Wilhite, a theology professor at Truett Seminary. He will speak at the ceremony.

God's instruction to Adam and Eve to have "dominion" over the earth did not mean exploitation of the planet, Wilhite said.

The Golden Rule set out by Jesus -- to love one's neighbor as oneself -- should serve as inspiration to care for creation, Wilhite said. And while Christian doctrine holds that all things will be made new at the end of the world, "that doesn't mean that it doesn't matter if you throw your trash on the highway," he said.

More than 20 staff and faculty members spent hundreds of hours measuring, documenting and changing procedures, said Ken Pollard, Baylor's physical plant director. He also is resident district manager for facility services for ARAMARK, a Fortune 500 company that addresses environmental stewardship and employee advocacy.

The employees strove for efficient use of water and energy, recycling, cleaning with environmentally friendly products and accessibility to mass transit, Pollard said.

The 66,000-square-foot seminary, built in 2002, was only two points away from receiving a "silver" rating, a step above certification, said Don Bagby, Baylor's director of facilities management. Buildings may earn additional points to achieve silver, gold or platinum status, he said.

The leadership and design certification program began in the late 1990s as a worldwide standard for new construction projects, said Steve Guenther, associate vice president for operational excellence with ARAMARK Higher Education.

As respect for the standards grew, contractors renovating existing buildings wanted to join the effort, and a category for existing buildings was established in 2004.

Obtaining certification in the existing buildings category is more difficult because extensive modification often is needed, Guenther said.

The certification ceremony will be from 9:30 to 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 27, in Paul W. Powell Chapel in Truett Seminary, 1100 Third St., on the Baylor campus in Waco. A reception will follow from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the seminary's Paul and Katy Piper Great Hall.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call (254) 710-3755.

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