Green initiative drives Franciscan Center

By    Sarah Demerly      


        Megan Drabek

Students, staff, alumni and dignified guests officially welcomed the Franciscan Center for Science and Media at the dedication and celebration ceremony Oct. 15.

One of the main themes of the ceremony focused on the environmentally friendly design and construction of the building.

“This modern and progressive building is a testament of many,” said Sister Mary Renetta Rumpz.

Throughout the entire building, water conservation is a primary focus. The Franciscan Center uses motion sensitive sinks, dual flush toilets and waterless urinals.  These few but detailed changes reduce water consumption by 50 percent. The water conservation also contributes to reducing pollutants by saving energy that would normally be used to treat sewage.                    

The Franciscan Center is bright and spacious. Daylight floods the gathering area through two-story windows and in doing so, reduces the necessity for manmade light.

According to the dedication program, to save on energy, the perimeter lights have daylight sensors and turn on when it’s dark. In addition, the classroom lights have occupancy sensors and automatically turn off when the room is vacated for 20 minutes.

Other significant conservation achievements in the Franciscan Center include a floor made of recycled and renewable cork. The cork for the floor covering is made from wine bottle stoppers.

A sedum roof covering doesn’t need mowing and provides a bit of flair opposed to a traditional garden. The rooftop garden insulates the building while maintaining the lifespan of the roof and filtering out pollutants.

The new science and media center has earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. LEED is internationally recognized for its green building certification standards.

“LEED is third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impact,” according to

In spring 2010, the building will be officially complete by honoring the Archdiocese of Detroit Cardinals with Cardinals Square, a spacious garden with themes representing sin and redemption. Original sin is reflected by an apple tree while redemption is illustrated by a crucifix, beam of light and fountain.

Among the dignitaries who spoke at the ceremony, Sister Rose Marie Kujawa, President of Madonna University, touched everyone in attendance with her selfless grace.

“This is really a milestone event and one that cannot occur without everyone working so well together,” she said.  “I just thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here today.”