Rubenstein aches to see Aiken

  For the past year and a half, the Hills building has housed the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.             This spring the Rubenstein School will be returning to the newly renovated George D. Aiken Center which is set to open in January, just in time for classes.             “The building features general-purpose classrooms, all faculty offices, graduate student areas and computer classrooms,” Robert Vaughan, director of capital planning and management said.              The original Aiken Center was built in 1982 and although the building has been under construction for the past 18 months, talk of renovation began in 2004, he said.              “The whole project cost $13 million,” Vaughan said.  “It’s been a major renovation.”             The renovated Aiken Center will be the first building on campus to apply for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certification.  LEED promotes green building design, construction and maintenance by rating projects certified, silver, gold or platinum, according to the U.S. Green Building Council’s website. The Davis Center has the gold LEED certification, University Communications stated. Materials used in the construction of the Aiken Center came from different areas throughout Vermont, stated a document released by Michelle Smith, green building coordinator.   All the wood used is from Jericho Research Forrest, and the limestone is from Isle la Motta.             “The Aiken Center is an incredibly efficient renovation project,” Smith said. “There are very few other buildings in the country that can compare to its efficiency and unique design features.”             Other environmental aspects of the Aiken Center may also help it to stand out from other buildings at the University.              “Our new building will be a tremendous resource for the Rubenstein School and the entire campus,” Mary Watzin, dean of the Rubenstein School said. “It has a number of unique and innovative features including an eco-machine to treat all the waste in the building, a green roof and the best energy efficiency on campus.”             During the week of Jan. 23-27, a student group called the Rubenstein Stewards will host a Week of Welcome at the new Aiken Center.             “We have a wonderful family feel within the school,” junior Natasha Lekach and Rubenstein Steward said.   “This week will hopefully help make the bonds of our community even stronger.”             Lekach also said that the excitement in the Rubenstein School over the new Center is sometimes hard to grasp.             The Stewards, however, are not the only students who said they are looking forward to the George D. Aiken Center reopening.             “The center is really pretty,” first-year Megan Kurmin said. “I think it’s really cool that they are using local things to build buildings on campus.”             Other students said they agreed.             “I don’t know if I have any classes there yet, but I could not be more excited about the Aiken Center opening,” first-year Jeremy Goldberg said.