Location, Location: A Sustainable Site

Determining the right building site was the first big decision for this deep green project.

Proximity to the rest of Berea’s campus factored into site selection. But under LEED Platinum guidelines, so did habitat restoration, open space, stormwater control, native landscaping, and historic considerations. Located close to Boone Tavern, the new residence hall creates a welcoming presence along Prospect Street as one of the main entries to the college. The final building footprint, set back 20 feet from the street and oriented east to west, results in several key advantages. Space in front allows for rain gardens to manage stormwater runoff. South-facing PV panels on the roof can optimize solar generation. And its placement across from Anna Smith Hall creates a new, open quad space for students.

This unique site presented both challenges and opportunities for landscape design. Working with Tree Campus USA, the project team made every effort to preserve as many trees as possible, particularly a large Northern Red Oak; after further investigation, they felt that excavations for the foundation would likely damage the roots of these older specimens. So all trees were cut carefully, much of the White and Red Oak shipped away for milling and later use within the interior of the residence hall. In their place, new tree plantings include several species that will provide shade on the south side of the building without blocking the sun from the PV array. The site topography, sloping to the east, called for a stormwater management plan that includes bioswales and pervious pavement as part of a green parking area.

The site is rich in history, too – once home to Berea’s Music Hall, Hunting Hall, Academy Chapel, several cottages for housing, and even a tennis court: all depicted in “A History in Pictures”. Prior to construction, Berea art students also participated in a special Archaeological Dig in Fall 2011 to gain insights about the site’s colorful past.

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