The Thomas M. Cooley Law School, the largest law school in the country by enrollment, is pursuing green building certification from the Society of Environmentally Responsible Facilities, an East Lansing-based alternative to the U.S. Green Buildings Council. The certification will encompass seven buildings on Cooley Law School campuses in Ann Arbor, Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids and Lansing.

Cooley Law School was founded in 1972 and has graduated more than 15,000 students.  Its campuses feature a number of innovative, green features. These include a 20,000-square-foot vegetated roof, an energy-efficient computer-controlled building automation system, water conserving toilets, landscape irrigation and adaptive building reuse.

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“Today’s students have an elevated environmental consciousness, and they want to learn, work and reside in green buildings,” said Joe Maguire, president and co-founder of SERF, a coalition of property owners, business executives and green industry experts focused on making environmental certification affordable and accessible. “Cooley Law School is a leader in legal education and is now leading the way in setting sustainable standards of educational facilities, which benefit the students, faculty, alumni and surrounding community.”

Cooley Law School recently initiated the SERF-certification process for the seven buildings, which include new, existing and historic structures. The Law Center in Grand Rapids, which houses the law library, faculty and administrative offices, classrooms, courtrooms and student offices, is the first building to complete the SERF certification. Cooley anticipates that the remaining building certifications will be completed in July 2011.

“We’re committed to building green campuses at Cooley and sought a green building certification that would recognize our important sustainability efforts, while also making sound financial sense,” said Don LeDuc, president of Cooley Law School. “Due to its efficiency, flexibility and reasonable costs, SERF enables us to attain a credible certification that will offer meaningful, long-term benefits for years to come.”

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Though the process is more streamlined, the requirements and criteria for SERF-certification are as stringent as those covered by other certification programs. The buildings are evaluated on 20 core categories of environmental sustainability. They include HVAC, structure, lighting, landscaping, water usage, recycling, green cleaning and indoor air quality.

As part of the certification process, the seven buildings are being independently certified by Energy Financial Analytics, a subsidiary of P.M. Environmental, a full-service environmental company with offices throughout the Midwest and Southeast.

Headquartered in East Lansing, SERF says it promotes “practical environmental stewardship.” Founded in 2010, the organization says it provides a “viable independent environmental alternative” to the USGBC’s LEED certification. In less than a year, SERF has certified 32 buildings in Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas and has fourteen certifications currently in process. More at

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