Berea College will begin construction on what will be the most energy-efficient residence hall in the commonwealth of Kentucky, if not the country, in April 2012. The three-story, 42,000 square foot building – referred to as the “Deep Green Residence Hall” – will be constructed adjacent to Boone Tavern Hotel & Restaurant and will house 120 students in 66 rooms. Construction is expected to be completed by August 2013.
“This new residence hall will stand as the latest example of Berea’s long-standing commitment to ecological sustainability or ‘plain living’ as it’s stated in our Great Commitments,” says Berea College President Larry Shinn. “We hope that this ‘deep green’ residence hall and the sustainable methods and materials used during construction will inspire others to reduce their carbon footprints and protect our natural resources.”
The construction methods, sustainability features and the usage of local and recycled materials in construction of the residence hall fit within the college’s strategic direction to meet the ACUPCC (American College & University President’s Climate Commitment) goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations and to promote sustainability as a role model for the community as well as students.
The first new residential facility constructed at Berea College since the Ecovillage a decade ago, this $16.5 million residence hall will be the third campus building to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. The LEED certification denotes independent verification from the U.S. Green Building Council that a building is designed and constructed “using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health.” This residence hall is expected to achieve LEED Platinum certification, the highest rating for sustainable design.
In determining a building’s certification, LEED measures performance in several sustainability categories, including energy and atmosphere (energy consumption and monitoring and the use of renewable energy sources), water efficiency, materials and resources, innovation in design, and awareness and education.
“The deep-green features of the facility will blend students’ learning needs with the college’s mission to create a highly sustainable and comfortable residence for living and learning,” says Steve Karcher, vice president for operations and sustainability. “Student involvement in the design process was critical in identifying opportunities for education about sustainability in a beautiful, student-centered structure.”
To reduce the building’s ecological footprint, the residence hall will feature rooftop solar photovoltaic and solar thermal (hot water) systems to meet about 14 percent of the building’s energy needs; an ultra-efficient geothermal heat pump recirculation system; active daylighting; operable windows for natural ventilation throughout; high-efficiency lighting; a highly insulated, state-of-the-art building envelope; low-flow water fixtures; and real-time monitoring of energy consumption via a special building dashboard. The building site utilizes rain gardens, bioretention ponds and pervious concrete to help manage storm water runoff. Composting toilets and gray or rain water recycling systems were designed and planned for the building, but current Kentucky building codes do not allow for their application in a residence hall.
Also significant is that a number of recycled and locally produced materials will be incorporated into the new building. The entire exterior features 100 percent recycled content brick; much of the interior trim (door and window frames, molding) and furniture will be manufactured from trees harvested from the 8,000-acre Berea College forest; and all interior paints, carpeting and finishes are free of any toxic compounds to ensure good indoor air quality for residents.
The Berea College Student Crafts program is constructing furniture for each room using timber harvested by mule teams in the Berea College Forest. This harvesting method is more ecologically friendly and less damaging to the ecosystem than highly mechanized methods. “It’s very low-impact as far as soil disturbance,” says Berea College Forester Clint Patterson. “There’s just a little scuff mark along the forest floor where the log was dragged out and then some mule tracks.”
Berea’s Student Crafts program is constructing 267 pieces of furniture. “We’re building 120 desks, 120 three-drawer chests, and a number of specialty tables that are of particular interest for us because we’re using the wood that came from the site where the residence hall is being built,” says Tim Glotzbach, director of the Student Crafts program.
The residence hall will provide a learning/living opportunity for students, staff, faculty and visitors. Faculty and students will provide input on the artistic elements of the building, which will include color and art schemes, as well as integration of historic and student art displays. During the construction phase and once it is occupied, the Deep Green Residence Hall will provide opportunities for interaction that will inform and educate residents and visitors about sustainable practices and features.
The building has been designed in a unique, collaborative architectural partnership between Hastings & Chivetta (lead designers) and Hellmuth & Bicknese (sustainability consultants), both based in St. Louis, Mo., with broad representation and input from members of the Berea College community. The building construction will be managed by the Lexington, Ky., office of Cincinnati-based Messer Construction Co.
Construction of the residence hall is one of several construction projects planned on Berea’s campus for 2012-13. Other projects include: a renovation of the main floor of the library to house the college’s Center for Transformative Learning, renovation of a portion of the first floor of the Alumni Building to house the new Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education, renovation of the old broomcraft building to house a college farm store, and an addition to the Middletown School to house the expansion of the GEAR UP and Promise Neighborhood programs.