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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

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

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
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