LEED-aiming residence hall bans dorm room staple: The mini-fridge
Over the past two years, Perkins+Will has been working with the University to create a dynamic environment where students can have a new kind of interaction on campus that pushes the boundaries of sustainability. It’s one thing to design an energy-saving, green-loving, tempered-by-the-earth building – it’s another thing to operate it to its fullest potential. That was the message that we brought to Bridgewater. It’s like most things in life: you can buy the most intricate smart device, but you only get the benefits when you know how to use.We structured the process around an understanding that there are elements that are controlled by design, and there are elements that are controlled by operations. To break down the process further, we tackled four key steps with the client: minimize building energy usage (passive strategies), maximize energy efficiency (active strategies), generate renewable energy, and reduce energy consumption based on building operation. This last one (“based on building operation”) is not often discussed in detail during the design process — but it makes all the difference!We know from experience that one of the uncontrollable energy costs of residence halls is plug loads, also known as energy hogs. To plan an operationally sustainable building, we worked closely with the University’s Facilities Department to take on the task of changing the policy of allowable items in the building. The bottom line is that we agreed removing micro-fridges and personal microwaves from the mix would reduce energy loads and save money, while having the added benefit of increased opportunity for interpersonal engagement and ideas exchange.
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