The Richmond Register

August 8, 2013

Berea College shows off new Deep Green residence hall

By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer

BEREA — Workers were putting the finishing touches on Berea College’s Deep Green residence hall Wednesday as a group of city officials and firefighters took a tour of the new 42,000 square-foot facility.

Its three floors and two wings can house up to 123 residents. Its stainless steel appliances and simple furnishings promote a level of practicality one might expect in a dormitory.

But on Wednesday, Berea’s capital projects manager Richard Dodd showed visitors what sets Deep Green apart from other residence halls.

The project was designed to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Platinum certification and Petal Recognition under the Living Building Challenge, Dodd said.

The LEED building rating system, developed by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council, is a third-party certification program for environmentally sensitive building design and construction.

Berea already boasts two LEED buildings on campus: Lincoln Hall, which was certified Silver in 2004 and was the first building in Kentucky to earn the LEED plaque; and Boone Tavern, the first hotel in the state to earn LEED Gold.

The Living Building Challenge has an even more rigorous standard for building projects, Dodd said.

Some of the LBC imperatives were impossible to meet, he said. A system to recycle rainwater was cancelled because of state regulations. But Deep Green will meet several of the program’s requirements to earn partial certification.

For example, every piece of wood used in the construction of the facility was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and harvested from the Berea College Forest, Dodd said.

“Most construction projects are only partially FSC-certified – this is one of the few that is fully certified,” he said.

Much of the wood was logged by a mule team and the oak and hickory furniture in each dorm room was created by Berea College Student Craft.

Part of LEED and LBC requirements include purchasing bulk materials within a certain radius to prevent carbon production during transport.

The building’s cast stone was purchased from a company in Winchester while the  many bamboo fans found throughout the dorm were purchased from a manufacturer in Lexington.

The fans are designed to spin at seven different speeds and have a special “woosh” mode to create an intermittent breeze that compliments the central geothermal HVAC system set at 73 degrees, Dodd said.

The fan and air conditioning combination is designed to create the feeling of a 68- to 69-degree room, he said, and the fans are 80 percent more energy-efficient than conventional fans.

The parking lot and sidewalks are all made with pervious concrete, a porous material that reduces runoff and serves as a filter while recharging groundwater.

Two depressions in the front lawn of the building contain rain gardens that will collect storm water.

Those driving by Deep Green on Prospect Street (KY 21) may notice that the building is angled and not perpendicular to the road — this was intentional, Dodd said.

Every corner of the building was pinpointed by GPS so that the rooftop array of 114 photovoltaic (PV) panels could face due south and soak up the most direct sunlight, Dodd said. The 50 kW panels will generate around 15 percent of Deep Green’s energy demands.

This ties into another aspect of LBC certification — a building’s connectivity to the region and its surroundings.  

A special class was formed to produce the tiles used to create the functional sundial imbedded in the face of the building above the front entrance.

Because Deep Green is a “building for students, we wanted students to actually be a part of creating it,” he said.

Students learned how to mix clay and colors, as well as how to glaze each tile. The tiles also were fashioned into a quilt square, an homage to the barn quilt movement that started in 2001.

Today, more than 3,000 registered barns with quilt squares are scattered along more than 100 driving trails spanning throughout 40 states.

“We call it the icon of our building,” said Dodd, who hopes people will stop by Deep Green as a barn quilt destination.

As in many Berea College buildings, the residence hall will feature lucid dashboard panels that serve as a monitoring station for the building’s water usage, solar panel energy and geo-thermal heating and cooling system.

Although the system is not designed to monitor individual room usage, it can show how much energy is used per floor and per wing, Dodd said.

“This allows students to see how their habits are impacting energy usage,” he said.

The building is furnished with Energy Star stainless steel appliances because stainless steel is a “highly recyclable material,” he said.

Deep Green is designed to be spacious and ADA accessible in every room, bathroom and kitchen area.

The building also has a safety feature that Berea Fire Chief Roy Curtis said was “the first we’ve seen in use.”

A piece of safety glass, around a foot tall, lines the frame of the open staircase that leads up to the second and third floor. Because the staircase is open to allow sunlight through the window, the safety glass is designed to prevent smoke from rolling up the staircase in the event of a fire.

Just outside the glass is a sprinkler system that will create a “curtain of water,” also designed to keep smoke from passing through.

Crystal Wylie can be reached at cwylie@richmondregister.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.