New 4-H Center Going 'Green'

November 13, 2003

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The new Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, to be completed in 2005 on the Ohio State University campus, will be "green" in more ways than one.

The color of the familiar 4-H clover symbol will be a reminder that the building's planners are making environmental considerations paramount. In fact, the building is the first new construction in central Ohio to register in the national "LEED" program.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System is a voluntary national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings that are healthful, environmentally responsible and energy efficient. Building designers register in the LEED program early in a new construction's planning; LEED certification comes only after buildings are completed and evaluated.

"We became interested in 'green design' for a lot of reasons," said Jeff King, assistant director of Ohio State University Extension for 4-H Youth Development. "Not only will it be more energy efficient and reduce operating costs, but it's the right thing to do."

The Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center will be the first of its kind in the nation, acting as a hands-on learning center for Ohio's youths and the volunteers who work with them. Ohio 4-H is the youth component of Ohio State University Extension, the university's land-grant outreach program with county offices throughout the state.

"Making sure our new 4-H center is built in an environmentally responsible way fits into our thinking that all of our programs take into account four focus areas: production efficiency, economic viability, environmental compatibility and social responsibility," said Bobby Moser, dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and vice president of agricultural administration and university outreach. "It just makes sense."

According to its Web site (http://www.usgbc.org/LEED/), the LEED program encourages responsible building design by reducing destruction of natural areas; reducing air pollution, water pollution and solid waste; reducing depletion of finite resources and increasing the healthfulness and safety of indoor and outdoor environments. The resulting buildings often boost workers' morale and personal satisfaction, increasing productivity. In addition, green design concepts can reduce operating energy and water use to less than half of traditionally designed buildings.

In Ohio, only the Federal Building U.S. Courthouse in Youngstown has qualified for certification in the three-year-old LEED program. In central Ohio, planners of an addition at the Licking County Joint Vocational School in Newark and of the renovation of the Thompson Library on the Ohio State University campus also have registered in LEED.

Keith Smith, director of Ohio State University Extension, said he is proud that the 4-H program is taking environmental considerations seriously. "It's one thing to talk about environmental responsibility to the more-than 300,000 youth in Ohio 4-H," Smith said. "It's another step beyond that to teach by doing."

To date, more than 2,000 donors have contributed $9.8 million to build the $12 million center, to be built opposite the Schottenstein Center near Lane Avenue and Fyffe Road. The fundraising drive was launched nearly three years ago with gifts and pledges totaling $6 million from the Nationwide Foundation and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Nearly $1 million has been raised from a grass-roots effort involving 4-H clubs, members, families, and OSU Extension employees, both current and retired.

Lincoln Street Studio, a Columbus-based architectural firm, is designing the new center.

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Author(s): 
Martha Filipic
Source(s): 
Ryan Schmiesing