Whether by providing interracial education at a time when it was unpopular and even dangerous to do so, starting a crafts program to preserve Appalachian culture while creating a revenue stream to help bolster the once-fledgling institution, or implementing programs such as GEAR UP and Promise Neighborhood to help prepare regional youth for college, Berea College has a long history of taking bold ideas from concept to creation to enhance our mission of education and service.

The latest and certainly most visible bold idea is the Deep Green Residence Hall. Three years ago, this idea was conceived when the College recognized both a need for more student housing and a desire to advance our commitment to sustainable living. Now complete and measuring 42,000 square feet, the hall provides living and learning spaces for more than 120 students.

Although the Deep Green name is temporary, it is a poignant description of the project. With “green” defined as displaying a broad and deep array of effective sustainability measures, the building may prove to be the greenest residence hall in the world once all certifications are completed.

Richard Dodd, the College’s Capital Projects Manager, explains, “‘Deep green’ means this building achieves Petal Recognition under the Living Building Challenge, the most rigorous performance standard for building projects.” It is also expected to meet the standards of LEED Platinum Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The first floor lounge provides students a great place to study or socialize.

On one traditional “green” measure, energy efficiency, the hall’s achievements are striking. Solar panel arrays, high-efficiency windows, and a geothermal heat pump system work together to reduce energy consumption. Indeed, the hall operates using 35% less energy than typical residence halls of the same size, helping to reduce pollution and protect the environment.[/text_output][text_output]To live more softly on our land, Berea’s scope for this building stretches beyond just managing energy efficiency, which is where most other building projects, even “green” ones, leave off. Though important, reducing energy use is just one component of deep green buildings, which are recognized as much for what they don’t do (negatively impact the environment) as for what they do (conserve resources). In other words, it’s what you don’t see that gives this new campus building an even deeper shade of green.

Using local and recycled materials, maximizing fresh air and natural light, and emphasizing student interaction with building systems to ensure they are aware of the building’s ecological footprint start to make this residence hall “deep green.” Add the educational components of an archeological dig at the construction site and artwork from members of the campus, and the green begins to go a little deeper. Consider the contributions of two mules, Fred and Dan, who hauled tree trunks out of the Berea College Forest to help avoid the pollution of heavy machinery, and the green gets deeper still.

Intentional measures to “deepen the green” didn’t stopped there. Harsh, potentially toxic “red list” construction materials were avoided, carbon offsets were made by planting trees, and wood was locally harvested to reduce pollution associated with transportation.

A new resident of Deep Green makes the space her own.

Realizing the “deep green” vision—through conserving energy, reducing the overall carbon footprint, employing environmentally conscious construction methods and materials, and fostering knowledge and skills among residents and visitors—moves this building to the pinnacle of sustainability. These practices also make the Deep Green Residence Hall one of the boldest ideas in Berea’s history, positioning the College as a world leader in environmental sustainability in higher education.

Click here for more information on the construction of Deep Green and Q&A Micah Korban, 14′, Technology and Applied Design Major.


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