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ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY
COLLEGE DORM

Dorm life is a little different for 114 students at Northland College ``Environmental Living and Learning Center" "One of the most environmentally advanced residence halls in the world." --William H. Mansfield III former deputy executive director, United Nations Environment Programme

Northland College opened the world's most advanced environmental residence hall in the fall of 1998. The structure provides a unique living and learning opportunity emphasizing resource efficiency and renewable energy.

Living arrangements feature three styles: regular double rooms, suites, and apartments. It also includes nine lounge or study areas, and four different energy and waste management systems.

Environmental Features

Among the special environmental features is a 120-foot 20 kilowatt wind tower to be located at the northeast corner of the building. Three photovoltaic arrays will provide efficient active solar energy collection and help study the efficiency -- one array is stationary, a second one tracks the sun's path horizontally, and the third tracks both horizontally and vertically to maximize solar gain.

Fourteen solar panels placed on the roof of the south wing will preheat hot water for use by residents. Composting waterless toilets in two of the apartments will provide a demonstration of their function and efficiency. The apartments have passive solar design and share two greenhouses.

ENVIRONMENTAL LIVING & LEARNING CENTER

F A C T S H E E T

Capacity:

  • 114

Square Footage:

  • 32,374 (not including basements)

Stories:

  • 2 (plus partial basement)

Location:

  • West edge of campus, north of soccer field

Room styles:

  • Apartments with 2 double & 2 single rooms Suites, 2 double rooms share a common bathroom Double rooms

Heating:

  • High efficiency natural gas boiler, hot water radiation
  • Passive solar design in South wing
  • Heat-recover units in building ventilation system

Hot Water:

  • High efficiency natural gas w/ solar preheating

Electric:

  • 120 foot, 20 kilowatt wind generator
  • Three photovoltaic solar arrays, approximately 3.2 kilowatt
  • Tie in to electric grid
  • High efficiency light fixtures, motors and appliances
  • Motion sensor lighting controls for common areas

Water:

  • Standard water & sewer hookups to city utilities
  • Low flow, water saving fixtures throughout building
  • Two waterless, composting toilets in south wing

Communications:

  • Phone, cable TV & computer network connection in all rooms

Common spaces:

  • Four lounges
  • One seminar room
  • Four dining/seminar rooms
  • Four kitchens
  • Laundry
  • Recycling center
  • Storage & mechanical

Special spaces:

  • Two greenhouses, located in the south wing

Special materials:

  • Organic based linoleum flooring instead of petroleum-based vinyl
  • Shakes from white cedar trees grown in the UP of Michigan
  • Cellulose (recycled paper) attic insulation with a R-value of 45 and fiberglass and foam insulation with a R-value of 25 for exterior walls
  • Furniture made from recycled milk jugs and recycled steel
  • A bio-composite material for countertops in south wing
  • Windows have low-emissivity coated glass, Hp-4 for south facing, and Hp-5 for the other thermopanes

The two-story dorm features three wings, some with windows facing southward to collect as much solar warmth as possible in a climate where winter normally begins in November and lingers through March. Students can grow plants in two greenhouses.

Brian Amones, a senior from Plymouth, Ind., has lived in the eco-dorm since it opened in 1998. ``The lesson to be drawn is it can be done,'' he said. ``The only thing stopping you is the resolve to do it. It provides examples for the rest of the country.''

Jeremiah Manzer, 22, a senior from Owego, N.Y., said living in the dorm has made him more ecology-conscious. ``I don't even pick up a foam cup,'' he said. ``My parents hate it because I won't use foam in their own house.''

Environmental features of the ELLC result in a 50% greater efficiency than a similar building designed to code.

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Written by: Northland College

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