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Sustainability at Wake Forest

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Comfortable Conservation

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

North_Campus_Dining_Hall_14Spring semester is here: new classes, new students, and the highly anticipated opening of North Campus Dining Hall. The 21,000 square foot-facility was designed and constructed to LEED-silver standards. From equipment to furnishings, it showcases some unique – even one-of-a-kind – sustainable design features.

John Wise, Associate Vice President of Hospitality & Auxiliary Services at WFU, who helped oversee the project, emphasizes the value of creating a building that does more than just meet the functional needs of campus: “Beyond simply meeting the needs of a growing student population, it is important that we create an environment that showcases sustainable practices that students can adopt and learn about now, so that when they leave Wake Forest, they will bring an understanding of what’s possible with them.”

Energy and Water

Behind-the-scenes technical features create a relaxed campus hangout that is also energy efficient. The variable air volume heating and cooling system and exhaust hoods are expected to be at least 12 percent more efficient than a standard system. A leading-edge, real-time exhaust hood system will also reduce energy use in the kitchen. Fluorescent and LED lighting, combined with occupancy sensors in numerous spaces, lower the electricity load of the building as well. Dual flush toilets and low flow faucets, part of the campus standard adopted four years ago, reduce water usage in the facility.

On the South side of the dining hall, a unique solar photovoltaic “awning” covers an outside seating area. This, the third small-scale solar array on the WFU campus will provide up to 10 kilowatts (kW) of power during peak hours. Numerous wide-framed windows also allow natural light to fill the space, reducing electric lighting needs.

The facility’s real-time water and energy footprint can be viewed online or on screens in the building via WFU’s building dashboard system.

Waste

All of the dining hall’s pre-consumer and post-consumer waste (e.g. vegetable peels, food scraps, and biodegradable napkins) are fed into a state-of-the-art pulper. The industrial pulper macerates food waste, from banana peels to chicken bones. With water that is recycled through the system, the ground “meal” is transported out of the kitchen into bins that are collected regularly by Gallin’s Family Farm. “The pulper is the first big step towards the campus-wide goal of developing a comprehensive pre and post-consumer composting program,” says Megan Anderson, WFU Waste Reduction and Recycling Manager.

An electronically monitored, direct plumbed waste oil management system filters and pumps fryer oil to a sealed outdoor storage tank with the touch of a button. This feature reduces the possibility of oil spillage and contaminations, maintaining the quality of the oil so it can be efficiently repurposed into biodiesel.

Furnishings

Carefully chosen furnishings contribute to the comfort and sustainability of the space. The project team collaborated with local companies for the construction and sourcing of the majority of the furniture: Bistro ’34 lunch chairs and tables were created in Winston-Salem and High Point, cushioned banquettes were sourced from Newport, TN, Starbucks lounge furniture was built in Hickory, NC, and communal oak tables were cut and milled in Lincolnton, NC. The most local of all of the furnishings, however, are the four benches that line the atrium. The wood for the seats was milled in Durham and comes from oak trees that were removed from the project site; the frames were crafted in Winston-Salem.

Landscaping

To get to the dining hall from points south, visitors cross a unique pedestrian bridge. Although also visually pleasing, the bridge was required in order to preserve several of the heritage trees that surround the atrium of Farrell Hall. A traditional walkway would have resulted in significant root cutting and soil compaction, likely killing the trees.

David Davis, Associate Director of Landscaping Services and member of the WFU Tree Care Plan Committee, commented on the bridge: “I think this project makes a strong statement about the university’s commitment to preserving heritage trees.” The native, low-irrigation landscaping that surrounds the building also reflects a holistic approach to low-impact design and operation.

While all of these features translate into quantifiable energy and water efficiency, they also signify something greater: a comfortable space that supports the wellbeing of its occupants and the environment.

By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator

The Z’s of Alternative Transportation

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

ZipCar“Alternative” may have connotations of “underground” or “independent,” but the Office of Sustainability hopes alternative transportation brings to mind a sense of open sharing and community at Wake Forest University. With options including the car sharing program Zipcar and the campus carpool network Zimride, Wake Forest faculty, staff, and students have access to transportation without bringing a car to campus.

Zipcar

WFU now offers four Zipcars on campus, including an additional car by the new residence halls on the North side of campus. To access the vehicles, and the international Zipcar network, anyone with a wfu.edu email address can join for a reduced first-year fee of $25 with the promo code B2S2013. New members also receive $45 of free driving credit to try out the program in the first month. Depending on the vehicle, rates start at $7.50/hr or $69/day and include gas and insurance. Unlike traditional rentals, Zipcar for Universities only requires drivers to be 18 or older and have a valid driver’s license (international drivers are welcome). In addition to personal accounts, faculty and staff can create departmental Zipcar accounts and reserve Zipcars for WFU-related travel.

Members can reserve Zipcars for an hour or a whole weekend, depending upon need. The free iOS Zipcar app makes on-the-fly reservations even easier. As Zipcar likes to emphasize, it’s like owning a car without the hassle.

Zimride

For anyone with a vehicle on campus who is looking to share a ride, Zimride is available to facilitate carpooling.  With a wfu.edu email address or a Facebook login, prospective carpool partners can register trips through the secure network. The free iOS Zimride app also puts the power to post or request a ride in the hands of the user. A Zimride member can offer a ride for free or ask passengers to help cover the costs of the trip.  Either way, extra cars are off the road during rush hour, busy weekends, and holiday travel times. For a daily commute, a shared ride to a meeting, or a trip out of town, Zimride helps make the match.

 By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability