Wake Forest University

Buildings - Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest

Buildings

Buildings

Reynolda Gardens’ Greenhouses Go Green

April 12th, 2013

2013-02-14_16-24-31_689 (Large)solar panelIt only seems appropriate to mark the anniversary of the Reynolda Gardens’ greenhouses and conservatory with a modern addition. Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds set out over a hundred years ago to use Reynolda Gardens as a model of self-sufficiency for local gardeners and, even more,for the community.

These values are similarly shared with the larger community of Wake Forest University, whose motto is “Pro Humanitate,” which is translated as “for the betterment of humanity.” Ravish Paul, Energy Manager for the university, says his office is “always on the lookout for opportunities that benefit all.” Therefore, the decision to put solar panels on the education wing at Reynolda Gardens was not just a small demonstration of solar energy potential for the university, but also an opportunity to “educate and encourage the community to invest in a living which is in harmony with nature,” according to Paul.

During the spring 2011 semester, students in Physics and Chemistry of the Environment (PHY/ CHM 120) researched and reported on a variety of energy efficiency and alternative energy proposals for the greenhouse education wing. Among the recommendations was a report on the feasibility of a solar photovoltaic installation. Based in part on this hands-on learning exercise, Professor Richard Williams secured a donation of a solar photovoltaic array for the gardens. Though the donation did not match up with the specific requirements of the historic structure, the university’s energy manager was able to find a unit that was a good fit.

In February 2013, we installed the array on the south-facing roof of the education wing. Photovoltaics use solar cells to convert sunlight into energy. When several cells are connected in a panel or array, the power generation capacity is increased. Once the energy is generated, it is sent to the inverter, which converts it into a usable form. The usable energy is then supplied to the utility company’s electric meter to either slow it down or spin it in reverse. It is projected that these panels will offset ten percent of the greenhouses’ energy usage each year.

Why solar? The Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center found that our state has the potential to collect twice as much sunlight as Germany, the world’s leader in solar energy production. Photovoltaics are a common sustainable energy source and, in terms of global importance, rank third, behind wind and hydropower, in providing renewable energy. At the end of 2012, one hundred countries worldwide were using photovoltaics.

In many international cases, photovoltaic usage has become more economically viable than traditional energy sources. For example, citizens in Cambodia can purchase a solar lantern at the equivalent of twenty-five U.S. dollars and use it for years without any additional cost, while fuel for a kerosene lantern runs around thirty U.S. dollars per year.

One of the most influential thinkers of our time, Lester Brown, founder of the World Watch Institute, had this to say about solar power, “The growth in the use of solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity can only be described as explosive, expanding by seventy-four percent in 2011. The world’s current 70,000 megawatts of photovoltaic installations can, when operating at peak power, match the output of seventy nuclear power plants.” Photovoltaics are not the only way to use the sun’s energy. The pace of solar energy development is accelerating as the installation of rooftop solar water heaters takes off. Unlike solar photovoltaic panels that convert solar radiation into electricity, these “solar thermal collectors” use the sun’s energy to heat water, space, or both.

With issues of poor air quality, the destruction of natural areas, and the possible degradation of our groundwater arising from the use of fossil fuels, it is our privilege and responsibility to explore energy production in renewable and healthy ways. I am reminded of a quote by Thomas Edison, “I’d put my money on the Sun, what a source of Power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out, before we tackle that.” We hope that the installation at Reynolda Gardens is a step towards a better understanding of solar power’s place in the energy spectrum and a cleaner environment.

Since its inception, Reynolda has served as a model of natural innovation and education. Just as Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds used the Gardens to show others what could be done if given the means, we invite that same spirit in the work we do today. The greenhouses and conservatory, even after one hundred years, are an integral part of our mission. It is our vision that through our educational endeavors and our example we will inspire awareness and an improved understanding of our natural world.

By Amanda Lanier, Curator of Education, Reynolda Gardens of Wake Forest University

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

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

Energy Bowl: Lights Off, Lights Out

October 24th, 2012

This November, Wake Forest and Notre Dame will be competing not only on the gridiron but on the grid in an energy-reduction competition. The Energy Bowl competition between Notre Dame and Wake Forest will be held in conjunction with the football game on November 17. The competition is sponsored by the  Office of Energy Management.

Each campus will monitor the electrical energy usage of their residence halls for the two weeks preceding the game from November 1 to November 14. The goal of both universities is to achieve at least a 6% reduction in electrical energy usage over the two week span.

So, while the energy bowl is a competition, both teams can win.

On November 1, there will be a kickoff event with games and drinks from 5:00-6:30 on Reynolda Patio (on the Magnolia Quad). While there, students can sign up to have an Energy Intern from the Office of Sustainability or an EcoRep visit their residence hall rooms to give a free assessment and tips about energy efficiency.

Throughout the two weeks there will be kiosks located around campus where iPads will display the most current results of our energy reduction and measure how well we’re stacking up against Notre Dame. Students, faculty, and staff can also check out a range of statistics in energy usage for all buildings on campus with Building Dashboard® energy monitoring and display software.

At the end of the competition, the residence hall with the greatest reduction in energy usage will receive a football signed by the Wake Forest football team to commemorate their achievement.

By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern

Three new hydration stations join our fleet

August 6th, 2012

New hydration stationsNew hydration stations will greet students returning to Reynolda campus. Facilities and Campus Services installed three new stations in high traffic areas: outside the Fresh Food Company, on the ground floor of Benson near Pugh Auditorium, and in the atrium of the Z. Smith Reynolds library.  Hydration stations provide chilled, filtered water and are designed to encourage the use of refillable water bottles.  A built-in sensor starts the flow of water when a thirsty Deacon places a refillable bottle under the tap, and stops the flow when the bottle is removed.  Each unit keeps a running count of how many disposable water bottles we have avoided by choosing to refill.

The success of the first three hydration stations installed last year, outside the Office of Sustainability on the first floor of Reynolda Hall, in Winston Hall, and in the Worrell Professional Center, has demonstrated the demand for hydration stations across campus.  This July the original station outside of the Office of Sustainability broke the 20,000 mark for the number of disposable water bottles avoided.  Plastic water bottle disposal is an increasing environmental hazard, adding 2 million tons of waste to landfills in the US each year, according to National Geographic. And disposal is not the only problem; plastic water bottles require an incredible amount of energy to produce and transport (if you filled a plastic water bottle up with all the oil required for its production, that water bottle would be about a quarter of the way full).  By installing six hydration stations and using refillable water bottles to stay hydrated, our campus community is participating in an important global transition away from disposable water bottles.

As older water fountains fail, Facilities and Campus Services will replace them with new hydration stations.  Departments can also co-sponsor the installation of a hydration station near their offices.  The Office of Budget and Financial Planning sponsored the installation of the new hydration station outside the Fresh Food Company.  For information on how to co-sponsor a hydration station, contact Tiffany White whitetn@wfu.edu. If your department would like to jump to the front of the line and install a station in your area, contact Donnie Adams at adamsdl@wfu.edu. Also look out for The Office of Sustainability’s reusable water bottle give away at Think Green Thursdays.  For dates and times, check our office calendar.

By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow

Rain garden solves erosion problem

July 1st, 2012
Rain Garden

Click the photo to view more pictures of the rain garden.

This spring Landscaping Services staff implemented an innovative solution to an erosion problem caused by copper runoff from the roof of Winston Hall. Runoff from copper rain gutters and roofs, commonplace across North Carolina, can be a source of soil contamination. The idea is simple. As stormwater washes off the copper roof, small traces of metal are carried along with the water into the soil. Since copper is a recognized biocide, copper-contaminated runoff can kill plants over time, contributing to soil erosion.

Some North Carolina institutions have chosen to scrap their copper gutters and replace them with other metals that leach “less harmful” agents. Landscaping Services Manager David Davis proposed a different solution to the copper runoff problem at Winston Hall: a rain garden.

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) created the Community Conservation Assistance Program (CCAP) to fund people and institutions with ideas that improve local water quality by reducing stormwater run-off and resultant erosion. Davis used funding from CCAP to subsidize installation of the rain garden. Landscaping Services also purchased recycled concrete aggregate, which was then buried in the path of the water. The copper ions in the water bind to the concrete rubble, effectively removing the contaminant from the water. The concrete aggregate replicates the effects of the many existing concrete storm drains around campus, which remove copper from stormwater runoff.

After laying the concrete aggregate, Davis and his team filled in the area with indigenous plants like Paw-Paw, Spice Bushes, and Black-Eyed Susans to further prevent erosion and take up the clean water.

The native plants in the rain garden also serve as invaluable habitat for migrating Monarch butterflies. The rain garden is now a certified Monarch Waystation.

Since Winston Hall is home to the university’s Biology Department and Environmental Program, this garden will also provide a useful outdoor laboratory for biology and environmental science students in Winston Hall. Professors from the Biology Department have already expressed interest in mapping the site and charting its growth, as part of their curriculum.

By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern

The Barn earns LEED Silver certification

May 3rd, 2012

The Barn was also the first building on campus to feature solar electric PV cells.  The 3.7 kW solar PV system, installed by Volt Energy, consists of 16 panels that produce 4825 kW-h of clean solar energy per year. Though the panels alone cannot power the building, they offset the fossil fuel-generated energy consumed by lights and fans in the venue, particularly during the sunny North Carolina summer months.

“The (LEED) certification is important, but what’s more important are the ideas behind the certification – to make the building as efficient as possible,” Callahan said.

Want to know more?

  • Read background on The Barn here.
  • Reserve The Barn for your event.
  • View a brochure on solar energy and The Barn here.
  • Learn about our other green buildings here.

 By Caitlin Edwards, Wake Forest  Fellow

10 Days Celebration: Thursday, April 26

April 26th, 2012

The national competition, organized by the US Green Building Council, Lucid Design Group, the Alliance to Save Energy, and the National Wildlife Federation, encouraged campuses to give students real-time feedback on how their actions reduced the overall energy and water footprints of their residence halls. Wake Forest’s new campus-wide dashboard system  provided that feedback.

Bostwick and Johnson Hall residents won the energy reduction division of the university’s competition.  They collectively reduced their energy consumption by 12.2 percent over the three-week period.

Collins Hall residents dominated in the water division by reducing their water consumption by 16.2 percent. This placed the university nationally in the top five schools with the greatest percent reduction in water.

In total, the university’s first-year residents saved 8,445 kWh of energy and 104,706 gallons of water. Nationwide, participants in the competition saved enough energy to take 151 average-sized homes off the electrical grid for one year.

The campus competition was sponsored by Facilities and Campus Services and Residence Life and Housing.

Mews renovation minimizes waste

February 2nd, 2012

Only one lonely mattress met its end in the construction dumpster outside Graylyn’s Mews. Every other piece of the furniture displaced by the renovations in the building found a new home in another university-managed building, at Kinnamon’s Consignment store, or with a community member through Habitat for Humanity.

The Mews originally functioned as the stable for the manor house. It was not until the late 1980s that the space was transformed into 45 guest rooms, a conference room, and a dining facility when Graylyn became a hotel and conference center.

After nearly 25 years of occupancy, the time had come for an upgrade to the historic property. As part of the renovation, the number of rooms will decrease to 35 to create more spacious sleeping quarters for guests.

Though John Wise, Assistant Vice President of Hospitality Services, and his team will not pursue LEED certification for the renovation, they are trying to make the new space as open, inviting and sustainable as possible.

“We are using LEED principles as much as we can and following the universities initiatives for new building construction practices,” Wise said.

Most of the new furniture that will furnish these larger rooms is sourced from regional manufacturers; the architects tried to incorporate as much natural light as possible, given the constraints of the space.

“We can’t exactly knock holes in the roof and walls of this building. That’s not the right thing to do for a historic place” Wise said. “We are trying to balance current sustainable practices with the responsibility of taking care of this historic landmark.”

Graylyn is registered on the National Register of Historic Places and is a landmark with local historical importance.

Renovations will be completed this April. An open house is scheduled for April 9th. You can follow the Mews renovations on the Graylyn blog.

By Caitlin Brooks, Wake Forest Fellow

Surplus property program now open

November 11th, 2011

The university’s surplus property program is open for business. The program allows offices and departments to release university-owned furniture and office accessories that are no longer needed to an on-campus storage facility.

Staff can then shop at the surplus warehouse for “new” furniture and fixtures free of charge. Not only has this saved the university money, but it has kept older furniture out of the landfill.

As of the end of September, 250 units of furniture, weighing in at more than 8.5 tons were diverted from the landfill and adopted for reuse through the surplus property program.

In only the first three months of operation, Surplus Manager, Alan Winkler, said that nearly $100,000 in expenses have been avoided through the program. This number includes only avoided cost of purchasing new furniture. The savings would be even greater after factoring in the avoided cost of hauling the tons of old furniture to the landfill.

If you are interested in shopping the warehouse, contact Winkler at campus phone 4071 or at winkleja@wfu.edu for directions. Shopping hours are from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. on Friday mornings. Departments and offices can take any item for free, but there is a $30 delivery charge if delivery service is requested.

Anyone with excess university furniture and office accessories should submit a pick-up request at http://www.wfu.edu/facilities/surplus/. Pick-ups from any university location are complimentary. Furniture should be in good, working condition.

By Caitlin Brooks-Edwards, Wake Forest Fellow

Solar energy helps power “The Barn”

August 11th, 2011

The new campus student social space known as “The Barn,” became the first building on campus to feature solar electric PV cells on July 28. Like all new construction on campus, the Barn was designed to meet, at a minimum, LEED Certification standards. The space will be utilized for campus concerts, parties, student activities and other events after it opens officially on September 1.

The 3.7 kW solar pv system, installed by Volt Energy, consists of 16 panels that are expected to produce 4825 kW-h of clean solar energy per year for the next three decades. Though the panels alone cannot power the building, they will offset the fossil fuel-generated energy consumed by lights and fans in the venue, particularly during the sunny North Carolina summer months.

The panels were ranked among the top three solar panels on the market by the Livestrong Foundation in June.

Over the lifespan of the system, the 16 panels will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 78 tons of CO2 over the lifespan of the unit. 3,136 trees would have to be planted to equal the greenhouse gas reduction of this one system, according to Volt Energy.

Want to know more?

  • Read background on The Barn here.
  • View a brochure on solar energy and The Barn here.
  • Learn about our other green buildings here.

By Caitlin Brooks, Wake Forest Fellow