From AP - News Headlines -

U of I Dedicates Handicap Accessible and Green Dorm, Dining Hall

The University of Illinois dedicated the Timothy Nugent Residence Hall and the Student Dining and Residential Programs Building on Friday in Champaign. The dormitory and dining hall are both handicap accessible.

The dormitory, which is University Housing's newest residence hall in more than 40 years, features proximity readers and large elevators to accommodate wheel chair bound individuals. The rooms also include technology to help students get in and out of beds and showers.

"This building was planned with the notion that students with disabilities could use each and every part of the building," explained John Collins, director of University Housing.

The new dorm's namesake is Timothy Nugent, who is director of emeritus for the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES). Nugent established the center more than 60 years ago. He said society's views of people with disabilities have come a long way.

"I never expected anything this wonderful," Nugent said.

The U of I's commitment to providing accessible facilities for students with disabilities was an important factor for student John Burton, a junior from Indiana studying engineering, when he was deciding where to go to school. Burton, who has spinal muscular atrophy, praised the University for making Nugent Hall an inclusive dormitory for students with and without disabilities.

"It allows you to make friends and meet new people, so that's kind of nice," Burton said. "Although Nugent Hall is the first of its kind, we have the opportunity to lead the way for other universities to follow."

In addition to providing independent living for students with disabilities, the new dining facility will also reduce the university's carbon foot print by using less water and electricity. The dining hall will also use leftover residue oil that is processed from fried foods, and then convert it into bio-fuel for cars and buses on campus.

University president Michael Hogan said the new dining hall is the second green building of its kind at the U of I next to the Business Instructional Facility. Hogan said he predicts the environmental impact of the dining hall will save the U of I money, especially as it looks to trim its budget.

"If you can save your energy cost, you can save a lot of money, so anything that keeps our air conditioning bills down, anything that keeps the lights off when not necessary, anything that reduces our water use," Hogan stated. "That all saves the university money, and of course saves the planet."

The new dining hall is named after former U of I president Stanley Ikenberry, who estimated that the savings generated because of the dining hall's green technology could equate to "several million dollars" within the next 50 years.

"It's not jump change," he said. "It's very important to us."

Hogan said he hopes the U of I considers making more buildings on campus environmentally friendly. The rest of Nugent Hall is currently under construction. An additional 350 beds will be added by the fall of 2012.

Categories: Education, Energy, Environment