Wake Forest University

"Doing the Right Thing:" Sustainable Features of the North Campus Construction Projects - Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest

“Doing the Right Thing:” Sustainable Features of the North Campus Construction Projects

Illustration credit: Facilities and Campus Services

Illustration credit: Facilities and Campus Services

Throughout the planning and construction of Farrell Hall, the two new north campus residence halls, and the new dining facility the architects have kept an eye on the incorporation of principles of sustainable design.

In an interview with Paul Borick, a senior project manager with Facilities and Campus Services, he defined the sustainable vision for the projects and identified several of the differences between the new projects and existing campus buildings.  Each building, from its foundation, to the landscape that surrounds it, will feature new measures of sustainability that meet the criteria for LEED certification.  These features include uniquely designed ventilation systems, recycled material used in the buildings’ structure, the preservation of parts of the original landscape, communal and open spaces that benefit from outside light, and more.

Borick, who is a LEED-accredited professional, stated that the goal of these projects is to “do the right thing,” by creating a focus on sustainable features.  Students can breathe a little bit easier knowing that the new Residence Halls will utilize a centralized air distribution system using a sophisticated energy control system, meaning the quality increases because there are no fan coil units in each room.  Fan coils tend to be problematic, do not allow for as much control over the heating and cooling and can be damaged by spills into the unit, therefore reducing air quality.  Fan coil units also tend to have a limited lifespan so a centralized air distribution system will lead to reduced building life cycle cost and maintenance.   In addition, the controlled system allows outside air to be brought in and used to further increase efficiency and air quality.  On clear, cool days the system will almost be able to operate on 100% outside air so that minimal conditioning of the air is required.

The structure of the building itself will also be more environmentally friendly, using post-consumer recycled materials.  It will consist of a steel stud system made of recycled content that allows for better insulation than traditional concrete block construction.  Other benefits of this system include more rigid floors and flexibility in the wall placement, which can allow for ease of future suite modifications.

Inside the buildings, the furniture will be made of recycled content and wood from sustainably managed forests, and the paint will be low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  During construction, all construction waste is being collected and sorted for recycling.  The quantity of drywall, steel, glass, copper and other miscellaneous metals being recycled is currently approaching 90%.

There will also be carbon dioxide sensors in the new dining facility and Farrell Hall to further improve control of building ventilation. All four buildings will be supplied with steam and chilled water from a campus central plant through underground pipes as opposed to having an air conditioning system or boiler located in each building. Touch-screen panels will connect to the campus building dashboard in order to educate occupants and visitors about how the buildings are performing.

Although, these buildings have been constructed over existing roads and parts of parking lot Q, the grove of trees on the site still stands.  The willow oaks, which will be transformed into a park-like setting, are part of the original farmland on which the Reynolda campus was built.  The entrance to Farrell Hall will showcase and honor the grove by creating a symbiotic relationship with the indoor atrium and grove of trees, allowing views and natural light to dominate the area.   A major portion of the landscaping will feature plants that are indigenous to North Carolina.  Additional caution will be taken in the creek bed area on the site.  In the first year, plants will be hand-watered allowing the native plants to take root and to stabilize the banks of the creek. In the following years, the water-efficient natives will require only a minimal amount of irrigation.

Each building will also offer more open spaces for students, faculty, and staff to create a greater sense of community.  As you walk into Farrell Hall, you will enter a lobby (or living room), with your back oriented to the glass and columns and towards the trees and Wait Chapel.  This is a space where people can convene, work, and connect with the natural setting.

Like Farrell Hall, the new dining hall will offer that same sense of openness and community, as well as several other sustainable features.  Rather than the all-you-care-to-eat style of the Fresh Food Company (affectionately known as the Pit) where patrons are separated from other dining venues, the new dining hall will feature areas similar to the Pit, Shorty’s, the P.O.D. and Starbucks.  These four beloved concepts on campus will all exist under one roof, creating an all-you-can-carry dining area, so students who want to order from different places can still share a meal.  Diners might choose to eat inside or outside on the terrace, under the solar-paneled pergola looking out onto Wait Chapel or the trees.

The new dining hall will also incorporate more measures of efficiency.  The dishwasher will use recirculated water for its pre-rinse and the lowest water consumption in its class, with less than .43 gallons per rack, for its main cycle.  Almost all appliances will be Energy Star-rated.

Through these sustainable measures and features, the university is, as Borick says, “doing the right things because this is the way building should be built.”

By Kiana Courtney, Communications and Outreach Intern