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 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 use of local and recycled materials in construction of the residence hall fit within the college’s strategic direction to meet the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations and promoting sustainability as a role model for students and the broader community.
The first new residential facility constructed at Berea College since the Ecovillage a decade ago, this .5 million Deep Green 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.” Berea’s residence hall is expected to achieve LEED Platinum certification.
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 the focus on students’ needs to create a highly sustainable but 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 solar photovoltaic and solar thermal systems that will provide about 14 percent of the building’s energy needs; an ultra-efficient geothermal heat pump recirculation system; active daylighting; high-efficiency lighting; a highly insulated, state-of-the-art building envelope; triple-pane operable windows with solar shading; low-¬flow water fixtures and real-time monitoring of energy consumption. 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.
Using timber harvested by mule teams in the Berea College Forest, the Berea College Student Crafts program is constructing 267 pieces of furniture for the residence hall. “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. Animal-powered timber harvesting 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.”
The residence hall will provide a learning 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 after it’s occupied, the Deep Green Residence Hall will provide opportunities for interaction that will inform and educate residents and visitors about sustainable practices and features. Live monitoring of the building’s energy footprint will provide immediate feedback on energy consumption.
The building has been designed in a unique, collaborative architectural partnership between Hastings & Chivetta (lead) and Hellmuth & Bicknese (sustainable features), both based in St. Louis, Mo. The building construction will be managed by the Lexington, Ky., office of Cincinnati-based Messer Construction Co.