Dorm Design Blends History, Energy Savings

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 - 12:06

Newest Mount Holyoke Hall Said to Use Less Power

The story below ran in the Daily Hampshire Gazette on April 14, 2007.

By Jennifer Krok, Gazette Contributing Writer

SOUTH HADLEY - Mount Holyoke College is promoting energy awareness with the construction of a new residence hall that is set to open this summer.

The $30 million project started in November 2006. It is expected to be completed this July and ready for student occupancy in September.

The 72,000-square-foot dorm is the newest of 17 residence halls on Mount Holyoke's campus since 1967. It is a combination of single rooms, double rooms and suites that will house up to 176 students.

Funding for the project will come from the fundraising office and the college's campaign, The Campaign for Mount Holyoke College. The college has not yet named the new hall.

"The fundraising office is responsible for raising $15 million of the total price. We've raised $11 million already," said Charles Haight, vice president for development at Mount Holyoke College.

The dorm has five floors and is segmented into two main buildings, connected by a common space with a lounge, a game room, a computer room and a meeting room. There are also gas fireplaces and an interactive display where students can monitor the energy use of the building.

According to John Bryant, director of facilities management at Mount Holyoke College, the new residence hall is expected to use 35 percent less power per square foot than the average residence hall, 30 percent less water than by code and 45 percent less energy than permitted by the current Massachusetts building code. The building has a solar hot water system, high-performance windows, a roof made of recycled synthetic slate, energy-efficient lighting and carbon dioxide monitoring, and the first two years of electricity will be come from wind and solar power.

The college is hoping the new building will help with three main goals, Bryant said. "First is to address decompression and overcrowding. There are more students on campus than the existing buildings were designed to accommodate. Two is swing space to address deferred maintenance in many of the other residence halls," Bryant said, "And third is to add more varied living arrangement." Another effort is to increase the number of single rooms on campus, he added.

Mount Holyoke College has four buildings on campus that are certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a United States Green Building Council that sets standards for green buildings and certifies them. Bryant said they're hoping the new residence hall will be the fifth.

The new residence hall was constructed with energy conservation in mind, but Bryant said its appearance was also an important factor. "The committee was very careful about the placement of the building and its architectural design," he said.

With many other campus buildings close to 100 years old, the college wanted to the new building to work with that historic feel, the "idea being to complement the iconic features of the other buildings," said Austin Martin, manager for Strategic Building Solutions, an outside company hired to oversee construction.

Bryant said that discussing the project outside of his daily work has allowed him to see just how impressive it really is. "It requires a lot of capital investment up front, but it pays for itself in the long run," he said. "The energy saved is good for the planet and it saves money."

Bryant added that he is hoping for vitality and a fun, active environment in the new residence hall. "Seeing the students touring the building, I could see that they were excited," he said.

"It's an outstanding new facility that students will enjoy living in on campus, but it will also allow us to renovate some of the more iconic dorms that Mount Holyoke is known for."

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