Campus News

New Residence Halls Earn Certification for 'Green' Construction

Story posted March 22, 2006

Bowdoin College's two new residence halls were recently certified as "green" under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

LEED is the acronym for a program administered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) setting national standards for green building design. The rating system was developed by the USGBC to promote environmentally friendly design and to reduce false and exaggerated environmental claims, which the council calls "greenwashing."

The residence halls, located on Coffin Street, received certification from the USGBC in February, and were certified at the silver level. That's a step up from basic LEED certification, recognizing environmental enhancements and systems that go beyond the minimum standards for a green building.

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The Coffin Street residence halls opened in August 2005.

The two 35,000-square-foot first-year residence halls are heated and cooled geothermally, using water from seven 1,500-foot-deep wells and heat pumps. Well-insulated groundwater, pumped into the buildings, remains at a constant temperature of around 50 degrees; the heat pumps extract 15 to 20 degrees to heat or cool the buildings. The system allows Bowdoin to save over 40% of the energy usually consumed in a residence hall.

In addition, the residence halls feature:

  • A system that pumps collected rainwater to the toilets, saving on potable water;
  • EnergyStar© rated white roofs, which necessitate less cooling for the building in hot weather;
  • Use of locally manufactured construction materials, composed of recycled content (including 99.9% recycled wallboard);
  • Individual thermostats in all rooms;
  • Large windows and skylights to allow for maximum natural light and reduce daylight electricity consumption;
  • Indoor bicycle rooms and outdoor racks, to encourage students to bike to class and town.

To read more about green construction on the new residence halls, visit the Sustainable Bowdoin Web site.

Colleges and universities are recognized as hothouses for architectural innovation as is evident in other college buildings around the state being built to LEED specifications.

At Bowdoin, the construction of Thorne Dining Hall, the Schwartz Outdoor Leadership Center, and Kanbar Hall incorporated numerous LEED credits. The College is striving for any new construction projects to reach LEED certification.

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