Green building 101By Anne Fitten Glenn on 03/06/2012
Colleges and universities are natural locations for green building projects — both retrofits and new construction.
“It’s part of the culture,” says Don Gordon, director of design and construction at the University of North Carolina Asheville. “It makes sense to build this way here. We’re trying to be leaders.”
To wit, The Princeton Review publishes an annual guide to green colleges and universities in partnership with the United States Green Building Council. The recently released 2012 edition profiled 311 colleges; UNCA, Warren Wilson College and Western Carolina University have all made the list. And Mars Hill College has a chance next year, after taking on the Billion Dollar Green Challenge.
Here are some of these colleges’ green building projects.
This Asheville college has been lauded for being one of the most sustainable universities in the North Carolina University system. A number of campus buildings employ green features such as geothermal heating and cooling, thermal windows, day lighting, vegetative roofs, solar panels and recycled building materials.
Since 2003, the following campus buildings have been built or renovated with green construction features: Highsmith University Union, New Hall, Sam Millar Facilities Management Complex, Zageir Hall renovation, Zeis Science and Multimedia Building, Pisgah House, Rhoades-Robinson renovation, Track Field House and The N.C. Center for Health and Wellness.
Currently, five UNCA residence halls in Governors Village are undergoing renovation (these buildings were planned to be demolished prior to this project) and one, New Residence Hall, is under construction.
“Not part of the New Residence Hall contract is a solar thermal installation we are planning that will provide domestic hot water for New Residence Hall and several other nearby residence halls,” notes Gordon.
“We are exploring the possibility of building a new building to the super rigorous standards of the Living Building Challenge by the International Living Futures Institute,” adds Steve Farrell, UNCA campus architect.
For more information, visit unca.edu.
Mars Hill College
In October 2011, this private college joined 32 other universities in launching The Billion Dollar Green Challenge (greenbillion.org). The goal is investing a total of $1 billion dollars in self-managed “green” funds that finance energy-efficiency upgrades on campus. MHC currently is the only institution in North Carolina to commit to The Challenge.
The college is undertaking major upgrades in more efficient lighting in existing building and adding solar hot water arrays.
For example, a $60,000 Green Building Initiative grant from The Kresge Foundation will help fund design and planning costs for Day Hall, a 36,000-square multipurpose building that’s in the works. The college plans to seek LEED certification, but which level will depend on the final budget, according to Granger Caudle, MHC’s executive director of planning and auxiliary services.
For more information, visit mhc.edu.
Western Carolina University
WCU currently is making use of a $5.6 million energy performance contract for several campus buildings that will introduce more energy-efficient heating and cooling, lighting and building envelope modifications, and renewable energy improvements.
WCU has one building under construction and one renovation underway, both of which will qualify for LEED certification.
The university recently started a $15.5 million renovation of nearly 40-year-old Harrill Hall, a dorm that will feature enough energy-saving and sustainability features to qualify the building for LEED Silver, or possibly Gold certification. Some of the energy-saving components include geothermal heating and cooling, exterior wall insulation and canopies to control sunlight entering the building. Charging stations will be made available for electric vehicles, and a stormwater retention system will be used to control runoff from parking lots into the creek. A few of the proposed systems, including a rooftop rainwater collection system to provide water for flushing toilets and solar hot water panels, were removed from the project to bring it within budget.
When completed, Harrill Hall will be LEED certified at the Silver level. Some of its green features include a 20,000 square foot vegetative roof, a south-facing atrium for passive solar gain and day lights, straw-based particle board for interior casework, and a sand filtering system for the parking lot storm runoff.
For more information, visit wcu-edu.
Warren Wilson College
Only 16 colleges and universities nationwide make The Princeton Review’s 2012 Green Rating Honor Roll, and Warren Wilson is on it. It’s also the only private college in the Southeast on the top list, having received the Review’s highest possible green rating of 99.
In addition to four LEED certified buildings on campus (listed below), the campus has one LEED certification in progress and several other WWC buildings that have been retrofitted with geothermal heating-and-cooling systems.
Warren Wilson’s LEED certified buildings include:
The crown jewel of Western North Carolina’s green buildings, EcoDorm was completed in 2003 but later awarded LEED Platinum designation for an existing building. It was the first dormitory in the nation to be granted that certification. EcoDorm was featured in a 2009 New York Times Magazine article on green dorms.
The dorm uses about 70 percent less energy than a conventional building of the same size. There is no air conditioning, nor are there any mini-refrigerators, toaster ovens or hair dryers in EcoDorm. Residents are encouraged to forego television and synthetic rugs, and hang their clothes on outdoor drying lines. WWC students led the move to build a green dorm and worked with faculty, staff and architects to create a building that is both livable and follows the best sustainability practices.
Some of EcoDorm’s more notable
green features include:
• a 10,000 gallon salvaged train tanker car that collects rainwater from the roof before it is pumped into the dorm, pressurized; the water is used to flush toilets and irrigate the garden.
• a radiant hot-water floor heating system. The water is preheated with an array of solar thermal collectors, reducing the energy cost by half.
• permaculture landscape. Most of the plantings are edible, and all are wildlife-friendly.
• wood siding harvested from trees prone to pine-beetle kill in the Warren Wilson forests.
• window awnings include photovoltaic panels tthat provide shading and power, with any excess energy fed onto the grid.
• cabinetry and wainscoting crafted by student crew from old farm fences on campus.
• a computer monitoring station that tracks the building’s energy usage and savings.
• Composting toilets that create odorless, safe, organic matter for use in landscaping.
Named for Doug Orr, president emeritus of Warren Wilson College, and his wife, Darcy Orr, the cottage was one of the first buildings on a college or university campus to achieve LEED Gold certification for new construction. Built in 2006, Orr Cottage houses some of the college’s administration offices. More than 15 student crews did the work, making it the first completely “in house” building project at the college. Orr Cottage uses 50 percent less energy than a conventional building of the same size. The house was constructed with stone from nearby mountains and wood siding and trim from the college’s forests.
While the EcoDorm garnered the first LEED Platinum dorm certification in 2009, before that came the Village South residence hall — the first dormitory ever in North Carolina to win LEED certification (2006). The building got the Gold and offers extensive energy and water conservation features. Soon after, the adjacent Village North dorm also received a LEED Gold designation.
For more information, visit warren-wilson.edu.
Freelance reporter and columnist Anne Fitten Glenn lives in Asheville.