Not only is the $24.1 million residence hall at Mount Holyoke the first new dormitory built on campus in more than 40 years, it’s also the greenest.

New Residence Hall, Mount Holyoke College-South Hadley, Mass.

The new, sustainable home for 176 students at the South Hadley, Mass. institution was awarded a LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

“The main goal was just to get it certified, then the college wanted us to push for Silver since we had the funds,” says Stephen Killian, director of operations for New York-based Barr & Barr, general contractor on the project. “With some fine honing of the plan, a strong focus on recycled products and everyone pulling in the same direction to get LEED certified, we ended up with a Gold.”

Solar panels provide almost ¼ of the building’sof hot water, and daylight dimming and occupancy sensors help defray energy costs, as do ceiling and in-floor radiant heat and synthetic slate shingles. The dorm’s storm water management system redirects runoff into nearby lake and brook. Additionally, at least 20 % of the materials used, such as the clay brick, were manufactured locally.

The site location presented challenges for both Barr & Barr and lead design firm, S/L/A/M Collaborative, of Boston. Being adjacent to both Stony Brook and Upper Lake, the construction site ran through a 100-year flood plain and 100 wetland setback. Prior to construction, Barr & Barr had to build two temporary sedimentation basins taking careful erosion control measures. The building was also situated on a very steep site so deep excavations with sheeting and shoring adjacent to the main roadway through campus.

“We really paid attention to sediment and erosion control throughout the process,” said Killian. “The building site is very interesting because there is a 200 foot drop from the front door to the back, so we took a very urban construction approach with soil retaining and a lagging system.”

The project started in November of 2006 and was completed September 2008, so safety risks presented additional challenges since campus life was in full swing and the site of the new residence hall is located in one of the more populated sections of Mount Holyoke campus. To keep students and faculty apart from the site, Barr & Barr erected permanent fencing around the construction site, temporary lighting, and added additional sidewalks along the site and adjacent streets.

“Even with the challenges, I think it turned out beautiful,” says Killian. “It certainly is the center piece to the campus and a symbol to their dedication to environmentally sound green building.”

Key Players

Developer/Owner: Mount Holyoke College
Owner’s Representative: Strategic Building Solutions
General Contractor: Barr & Barr, Inc.
Design Firm: The S/L/A/M Collaborative
Architect/Engineer: VanZelm Haywood