USC residence hall billed as world's largest "green" dormitory - - Columbia, South Carolina

USC residence hall billed as world's largest "green" dormitory

(Columbia) Nov. 5, 2004 - The University of South Carolina on Friday officially opened what's known as largest "green dormitory" in the world.

The 172,000-square-foot West Quad complex at the corner of Sumter and Wheat Streets in Columbia is designed with the environment in mind and includes three four-story buildings with technology to conserve water and energy.

The complex cost $30.9 million, a price USC officials say reflects how much a traditional residence hall would cost. The school says the dorms use 45 percent less energy and 20 percent less water than similarly sized traditional residence halls.

Some 500 undergraduate students will live in the dorms, which have an outdoor amphitheater, a learning center powered in part by a hydrogen fuel cell, a turf roof and a cafe that sells healthy
foods and environmentally sensitive products.

Students like junior Carlos Washington had to apply to live at the West Quad, "It feels a lot more natural than just living in just a regular residence hall. I'm not saying the other ones aren't great, but, it just feels so much better. It feels cleaner."

Students have been living in the residence hall since the beginning of the semester but school officials held the official celebration today after all construction was completed.

USC President Andrew Sorensen says the site of the West Quad, built with a 89 percent recycled materials, will also be a center for research on the environment and next energy.

More "green" features:

  • The heating, ventilation, cooling, refrigeration and fire suppression systems are free of ozone-depleting substances.
  • Water is preheated by a solar collection system.
  • Electricity and hot water for the learning center are generated partly by a five-kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell.
  • The turf roof on the learning center not only cools the building by absorbing heat but reduces rainwater runoff.
  • Special light shelves in the windows ensure energy efficiency and comfort by deflecting natural light into the rooms and reflecting it off the ceiling to light the room and reduce the heat of direct sunlight.
  • Interior lights include motion sensors that automatically turn lights on and off as people enter and exit a room.
  • Other green features include low-flow plumbing, high-efficiency washers and dryers, a changing room for bicyclists who commute to campus and lots of outdoor green space for relaxation.

USC has registered West Quad with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and is awaiting the council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which sets and measures international standards for green buildings. Only two universities have residence halls with LEED certification: Carnegie Mellon, which is 71,000 square feet, and Duke University, which was renovated to be made "green."

Furman University's Hipp Hall academic building, and Cox and Dinkins, an engineering and surveying firm in Columbia, are LEED certified.

West Quad was designed by The Boudreaux Group, and constructed by Contract Construction Inc.

by Heather Brown

posted 12:43pm by Chris Rees

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