Magazine On-line [fall 2009]
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Transylvania earns Kentucky’s first EPA ENERGY STAR rating for residence halls

Thomson HallTransylvania’s Thomson Residence Hall has earned the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR rating, the first such recognition for a residence hall in Kentucky.

ENERGY STAR is an EPA program to improve energy performance in buildings as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The certification signifies that the building’s annual energy performance rates in the top 25 percent nationwide. Thomson Hall was rated in the top 14 percent.

“Transylvania has made sustainability a campus priority, and the design of energy-efficient Thomson Hall reflects that commitment,” said President Charles L. Shearer. “We worked closely with Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects and CMTA mechanical and electrical engineers to meet our needs in the most efficient manner possible.”

Darrell Banks, physical plant director, said the ENERGY STAR rating is based on three criteria—the building “envelope,” efficiency of the electrical and mechanical systems, and operating efficiency—and is calculated after a full year of measured performance.

“This ensures that Thomson Hall is not only a ‘green’ building as constructed, but that it’s truly energy efficient over time,” Banks said.

Relevant features of the envelope include a roof system and walls with high insulating value, and windows that minimize heat loss while shading the interior from excessive solar heat. A highlight of the building’s first year of operation was the prevention of 130 metric tons of carbon dioxide from polluting the atmosphere when compared with an average dorm of the same size. The building’s efficiency also saved the University $20,330 on utilities for the year.

The three-story, 28,000-square-foot building provides housing for 61 students in 31 suite-style units, meeting and study spaces, lounges, and the 1780 Café.

In addition to its envelope qualities, Thomson Hall’s sustainable features include geothermal heating and air-conditioning, a lighting system that performs 20 percent better than the energy code requirement, showers equipped with low-flow heads, and a blacktopped parking area made of 50 percent recycled material.

“At Transylvania, sustainability is more than an intellectual concept,” Shearer said. “Here, everyone can have a hand at confronting important environmental issues and solving real-world problems through personal involvement.”

Visit Transylvania's Sustainability Web site.

Read a news release about sustainability at Transylvania.

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