The fact that Berea College’s new Deep Green Residence Hall will be recognized as one of the world’s greenest—achieving more LEED points than any other residence hall and on track for Living Building Challenge’s (LBC) Petal certification—should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the institution’s history. Founded in 1885, the liberal arts college is well known for being the first interracial, coeducational college in the South as well as for providing every student with a four-year tuition scholarship.
The school’s commitment to sustainability is just as impressive. Berea houses a 50-apartment “Ecovillage,” a Sustainability and Environmental Studies demonstration house, and an aquaponics facility, allowing the community to function as a living laboratory while meeting housing needs for student families. The Deep Green project, which earned more LEED points than any other residence hall, was Berea’s first new residence hall in decades, and the administration and board of trustees saw an opportunity to live out its commitment to the environment and lead by example.
“LEED Platinum was really just a milestone on the path toward the Living Building Challenge,” says Derrick Singleton, Berea’s vice president of operations and sustainability. To reach these lofty goals, Berea and architects at Hastings+Chivetta focused on creating an integrated design that truly used best practices. After scrutinizing every design detail, the team decided it would go for every petal but Energy—the one category where constraints limited the institution’s chances for full certification.
Berea students were involved at various levels of the project in order to provide learning opportunities about sustainable practices while helping establish the residence hall as a building for and by the students. They helped with harvesting wood from Berea College’s forest, built furniture, created artwork, and crafted the building’s iconic sundial, which is based on a quilt pattern popular in the region.
When Berea compared its energy and water models to what it was actually achieving during the first eight months of occupancy, the school found it was outperforming its already-aggressive design. And Berea’s campus sustainability coordinators continue to work with students living in Deep Green to measure the space’s impact on how they live, study, and learn.
Next project: Roosevelt University’s Wabash Tower