Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008 | 2 a.m.
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UNLV’s Greenspun Hall was dedicated Tuesday, and if anyone at the ceremony questioned just how environmentally sensitive planners were, he needed only to look overhead to a photovoltaic array that produces enough energy to offset 13 percent of the building’s estimated consumption.
The 120,000-square-foot building will be the first at UNLV certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, which designates “green” structures, furthering the school’s goal of becoming a leader in sustainability.
As such, Greenspun Hall serves as an example of how state universities can work with private partners to achieve their missions.
With public money scarce, the way Greenspun Hall was financed could become a model for funding campus construction.
The Greenspun family, which owns the Las Vegas Sun, contributed $37 million — the largest single donation UNLV has received — toward the $93.7 million building. UNLV President David Ashley said it was the Greenspuns who insisted the facility meet rigorous environmental standards.
“They said, ‘This needs to be a monument to forward thinking,’ ” Ashley said, speaking before a crowd of more than 300 gathered to celebrate the new five-story building along Maryland Parkway.
Speaking for his family, Brian Greenspun, editor of the Sun, said the new building reflects the commitment that his parents, Hank and Barbara Greenspun, made to the community they grew to love many decades ago.
He said students who walk through the doors of Greenspun Hall will be “better educated, better informed” to serve their community as productive citizens.
Though classes do not begin in Greenspun Hall until January, faculty members have already moved in. Greenspun Hall accommodates the Department of Communication Studies, the Department of Criminal Justice, the Department of Environmental Studies, The Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies, the Department of Public Administration and the School of Social Work.
The building features a laboratory where students will be able to work with the latest audio and video technology, and television and radio newsrooms for student journalists.
Lights turn off automatically when rooms are not in use. Water-saving features include low-flow toilets and sinks. Bicycle storage, showers and changing rooms encourage commuters to bike to UNLV.
In a time of dire budget cuts, the debut of new facilities has been a bright spot for the valley’s public colleges and university this semester.
The College of Southern Nevada dedicated a $25 million, 78,000-square-foot library and classroom building in September on its West Charleston Campus.
Nevada State College rang in the academic year with its $23.4 million, 42,000-square-foot classroom, laboratory and office building.
And UNLV faculty and student researchers are preparing to move into a new $113 million, 206,000-square-foot science and engineering building.
Speaking at Tuesday’s ceremony, Michael Wixom, chairman of the board that governs Nevada’s public higher education system, said the Greenspuns’ donation sends the message that it’s important for members of the community to invest in public institutions.
“This building represents a commitment ... It’s an investment in our future and our children’s future,” Wixom said.