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David Davis Archives - Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest

Posts Tagged ‘David Davis’

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.


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.


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.


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

Tree relocations save trees from destruction

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Photo courtesy of Jim Mussetter, University Arborist

With the help of some serious equipment, Landscaping Services staff members successfully removed 24 trees from the future site of the business school, Farrell Hall, and transplanted them at three locations: the new Welcome Center, South Hall, and North Campus Apartments.

The various maples, oaks and redbuds that made up the initial transfer group were moved during the dead of winter to promote their chance of survival in their new locations. Trees lie dormant during the cold months, making it easier to transplant them with minimal risk to the root system.

“I don’t know but I don’t believe we’ve ever lost a tree on campus that we’ve transplanted with a large spade,” reported David Davis, Manager of Landscaping Services.

Though the university has relocated trees in the past, the practice had not been common in recent years. University Arborist Jim Mussetter, who has worked in Landscaping Services for 19 years, could recall few instances when trees had been saved from construction sites during his tenure.

According to Mussetter, the decision to relocate the trees, rather than to remove them, was made largely in response to the negative reaction from the Wake Forest community to the removal of many trees from the new admissions center site last fall. The effort to relocate trees is also in keeping with the university’s commitment to tree care that is articulated in the newly adopted Campus Tree Care Plan.

The Campus Tree Care Plan was created by a team of Facilities and Campus Services staff members led by Jim Coffey and Jim Alty, with assistance from two interns in the Office of Sustainability. The plan meets guidelines established by the Arbor Day Foundation. The completion of, and adherence to, this plan is just one crucial step on the way to Tree Campus USA designation, anhonor bestowed on colleges and universities that have demonstrated a commitment to prudent care of their trees, including their protection during construction projects.

In addition to articulating tree care guidelines, the Tree Care Plan also provides the framework for a new Tree Advisory Committee and a commitment to an annual Arbor Day celebration.

By Caitlin Brooks, Communications and Outreach Intern

FAQ: Landscaping water usage

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Q. I’ve noticed how beautiful the Wake Forest gardens are, but isn’t all that landscaping water intensive, particularly during the summer when the flowers are in bloom and water is at a premium?

A. Though landscaping, particularly on a large scale like at the university, requires a lot of input, there are many simple ways to minimize the amount of water needed throughout the lifecycle of the gardens. According to David Davis, Manager of Landscaping Services at the University, plans for water use reduction begin in the design phase and extend throughout the life of the plant. From plant selection for particular locations on campus to planting schedules and water wise practices such as “spot watering,” the university’s landscaping department tries to minimize their water use while maximizing the beauty of the grounds.

David Davis provides details below:

At the design phase we simply choose plants that most likely suit the site in regards to available water.” For example a south facing slope would naturally be much drier than level or low ground on the north side of a building. Simply put, choosing the right plant for the site is the first and maybe the most important step in the process.  At installation we amend the soil with organic matter which improves overall soil structure and holds moisture. After planting we add mulch which insulates the soil from drying winds and the sun and helps to conserve moisture.

Whenever possible we try to plant during the dormant season to allow plants to establish a good root system before the summer months therefore requiring less watering the first season. However sometimes circumstances dictate that we plant during late spring or summer when water needs are high. Much of our new shrub and tree planting is hand watered from a spigot or a mobile water tank. Although time consuming hand watering or spot watering is very water wise as only the plants that need water receive water rather that the entire surrounding landscape.

We have recently installed several new irrigation controllers which are controlled by a PC. These new smart systems are linked to a “weather station” here on campus which will shut the system off in the event of a significant rain. There are also flow sensors that monitor and shut down the system should a major leak occur. A notification is then noted on the PC that there is a problem allowing us to find and fix problems in a timely manner. Also many of our new irrigation systems have drip irrigation for the shrub beds rather than sprinklers. Drip irrigation is very efficient putting water only where it is needed.

Caitlin Brooks, Outreach and Communications Intern

Faces of Sustainability – David Davis

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Maintaining the landscape and horticultural variety of Wake Forest’s property is a much more complex and integrated endeavor than one might suspect, as proven by David Davis, Wake’s Manager of Landscaping Services. A new administration at the university brought new and progressive views on sustainability, and a shift in the landscaping practices of old.

For years now, Davis has been working to ensure sustainable landscape by ensuring integrated pest management, paying close attention to species selection (consistently favoring native species over invasive), and realizing that the little things do in fact matter- such as reusing leaves for compost in order to minimize resource input.

Most notably in recent years, a collaboration of individuals at both Wake Forest and the surrounding neighborhood have been working to create a Cherokee garden on Wake’s campus. This project, which began in the fall of 2008, came into full bloom on April 22nd with a Native American blessing of the garden. The garden, which serves as a scenic intersect between the campus’ drylands and wetlands, owes its biodiversity to the collection of storm-water atop a layered bedrock.

It is hoped that this garden will be used as an outdoor classroom, one that can be valued for its subtle beauty and functional use as an exhibit of native species.  Davis sites his creative freedom in projects as one of his favorite parts of the job. He particularly enjoyed the evolution of the campus garden project which saw the transformation of a once unimpressive landscape into a diverse and intrinsically beautiful place.

Kathleen Pritchard, Outreach and Communications Intern