Chartered in 1909 as a private higher education institution, North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham, NC has been educating people for more than 100 years. In 1923, the university became part of the public sphere when the state legislature appropriated funds for the purchase and maintenance of the school. Now part of the University of North Carolina system (which is comprised of 17 schools), NCCU provides instruction in undergraduate and graduate programs, with 77 types of degrees offered.
Set on 135 acres, NCCU’s campus features 60 buildings, and in August 2011 a new residence hall—Chidley North—was added to that inventory. The 134,000 square foot, four story facility was certified LEED Gold in August 2012. It is the second NCCU building to earn this designation from the U.S. Green Building Council. The school’s Nursing Department building was the first, also receiving LEED Silver certification recently.
A Chat With Walter Lennon,
The motivation for building Chidley North revolved around the desire to provide more options for students who were housed off campus. Explains Walter Lennon, project manager in NCCU’s department of design and construction, who oversaw the project, “The university was renting apartments and providing transportation and full-time security for that off campus location. After an evaluation was conducted, it was determined we were spending more than it would cost to provide housing on campus.”
Meanwhile, the Fall 2009 semester marked NCCU’s largest freshman class ever, and the need for student housing was pressing. Currently, university enrollment is 8,349, with about one-third residing on campus.
Bringing more students into campus housing offers other potential benefits as well, notes Lennon. “Research indicates that living on campus improves retention and graduation rates,” he says. “It also promotes social integration and participation in campus activities, which helps increase the probability of graduation.”
At the time, the site was occupied by a residence hall that was no longer suitable for use. Located on the northeast edge of NCCU’s campus, the new facility is one of the first things people see as they approach from that direction. “Chidley North is a beautiful addition to the campus,” says Lennon, “and a welcoming sight in a strategic spot—all the more so because it replaced a facility that was no longer so appealing.”
As part of the LEED pursuit, demolishing the existing structure involved a construction waste management plan. The culmination of efforts resulted in 97.13% of material leaving the site being salvaged or recycled.
In designing the facility, the project team needed to consider several aspects—the students’ needs, environmental issues, and integrating the new facility with an adjacent dorm, Chidley Main Hall. NCCU chose architectural firm Lord, Aeck & Sargent (LAS) to provide architectural services for the project, and Lennon worked closely with the firm to determine how to achieve the multiple goals.
Derek West, an LAS associate who worked as the firm’s project manager for Chidley North, says, “Beyond the essentials of providing a safe, comfortable living and learning environment for students, we were tasked with creating a place that would inspire a sense of loyalty and pride reminiscent of the original Chidley Main Hall.”
Opened in 1951 as a men’s dormitory, Chidley Main Hall is still in use and is a point of pride for NCCU. The design of the new residence hall needed to complement the older facility. This was accomplished by designing Chidley North as a C-shaped structure; its interior exterior façade faces Chidley Main Hall. This arrangement formed a courtyard between the two residence halls, serving to enhance that outdoor area as a place for students to gather.
To determine the layout of the dorm rooms, the project team invited input from NCCU housing staff and students. Says West, “We went through an involved process to present the options for different room types, and the feedback was surprising. Students declared that not sharing a bathroom with a group of other students was preferred over having other amenities, such as a four person suite with a kitchen.”
LEED Platinum Office Space For Staples
By TFM Staff
In December 2011, Staples Promotional Products, a business-to-business division of Staples, Inc., received LEED Platinum for Commercial Interiors (CI) v. 2009 certification for its 25,000 square foot office in St. Louis, MO. About 100 Staples employees work in this facility—a converted gear manufacturing factory originally built in 1957 and restored over an 18 month period. The company occupies the building with several other organizations.
Part of the building wide renovation, the office interior earned 86 of a possible 110 LEED points, with the breakdown as follows: Sustainable Sites (21 of 21); Water Efficiency (8 of 11); Energy & Atmosphere (22 of 37); Materials & Resources (10 of 14); Indoor Environmental Quality (13 of 17); Innovation (6 of 6); and Regional Priority Credits (4 of 4).
Contributing to LEED points was the fact that more than 90% of the building’s original shell was used in its renovation. Other features include:
Roof: Two 3,000 gallon tanks capture all rainwater from the roof and reuse it for irrigation. Ninety seven percent of the roof is white to reduce heat absorption and save on cooling costs.
Furniture: More than 75% of the furniture in this Staples office is reused from previous building projects, and 20% of construction and furniture materials contain recycled content. All installed wood products are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.
Natural lighting: Natural light reaches more than 75% of the interior workstations, and more than 90% of regularly occupied spaces have direct views to the outdoors. The 24′ high ceilings feature 12 skylights, which let in additional natural light.
Office lighting: All public area and office lighting is motion sensor activated to reduce energy usage. Work area lighting is also adjustable for occupants.
Interior materials: All paints and carpets are environmentally preferable, and the office features 75 living plants.
Water efficiency: Restrooms feature low-flush urinals and dual-flush toilets to conserve water. Faucet sensors are installed in the restrooms, kitchen, and breakroom.
Energy: Half of the building’s electricity is derived from renewable sources.
Indoor air quality (IAQ): High efficiency filters are provided on mechanical systems to ensure good IAQ for occupants.
Transportation: Bicycle storage and changing rooms, along with designated parking for carpools, were made available. Additionally, the office is located less than one-quarter mile from two public bus routes.
TFM recently spoke with Bill Gossman, vice president of procurement, sourcing, and supply chain for Staples Promotional Products about the office. Gossman was responsible for managing systems conversion, distribution consolidation, and new office build, in addition to his regular duties of managing inventory, global supply chain and logistics and procurement.
TFM: What are a few sustainable strategies, or features, of this office that you have found to have the most impact—whether on behind the scenes facility operations, or on occupant satisfaction?
Gossman: On the inside of the building, one of the most visible features that has had a positive impact on occupants is the amount of natural light in all the workstations. The exterior of the building has solar panels to reduce its reliance on the power grid and a rooftop system to capture rain water that is then used to power landscaping sprinklers.
TFM: What comments or reactions have you encountered from the employees working in the office? Are there any specific sustainable features they especially appreciate?
Gossman: Associates are proud to work for a company with a strong commitment to sustainability and are excited to be a part of the organization’s latest environmental initiative. Features like natural light, recycling programs, amenities to support active lifestyles and consolidated copy and printing have made the work environment more enjoyable and productive.
Accommodating this rooming preference allowed for a more efficient plan than originally considered, with the final bed count totaling 517.
Reflecting on the feedback received after the first year of occupancy, Lennon says, “The students love the hotel style configuration. They also enjoy the amenities that are on each floor; these include a full kitchen, a laundry room, and two study rooms with soft seating and group study tables.”There are 241 double occupancy rooms (each with private bathroom), 11 single units for resident advisors, and six ADA accessible suites, each with two double occupancy rooms and single bathroom.
But there is more to Chidley North than the dorm rooms. The facility also contains a computer lab and a multimedia classroom that all NCCU students can use. The main entrance, located in the building’s center wing, opens into a two level atrium, and the mezzanine overlooking the lobby is where the computer lab and classroom are located.
Many building materials were selected for their low cost of maintenance. The facility core and corridor walls are exposed polished architectural concrete masonry, which were identified as suitable for these high traffic areas. “These surfaces are very easy to maintain,” notes Lennon. “The hallways should never require painting, and the floor material never has to be replaced.”
Commenting on the material choices, West says, “Residence halls are proving grounds for materials durability. They endure a lot of traffic and activity. Ease of maintenance and longevity were priorities for the university, and that is reflected in all material choices, from the stained concrete floors and linoleum on the interior to a zinc roof and brick on the exterior. We designed public spaces and corridors to be finished primarily in exposed, sealed, and stained concrete floors, ground-faced concrete masonry unit walls, steel doors and frames, decorative steel wall panels in the lobby, and native, drought resistant landscaping. All of these materials are holding up well in the building’s second year of occupancy.”
Implementing programs that involve students and cleaning staff were other ways the project team moved toward LEED certification, ultimately earning 40 points. There are recycling stations located on each floor; the building’s housekeeping staff adheres to approved green cleaning methods, and the facility itself is used to educate students and members of the community in green building practices.
Mandate For Sustainability
Earning LEED certification was an internal goal set by NCCU; the initial goal was Certified, and this eventually reached Gold. However, the focus on sustainable strategies (particularly for energy and water use) was spurred by legislation that had been passed by the state in 2007. Lennon explains, “The driving force behind the environmentally friendly design was North Carolina Session Law 2007-546-Senate Bill 668. This requires state university buildings to be built using sustainable, energy efficient methods that save money, reduce negative environment impacts, and improve student performance.”
The legislation addresses both new construction and renovations. Newly constructed facilities should be designed to operate at 30% greater energy efficiency than the baseline set in ASHRAE 90.1-2004 and to use 20% less potable water as calculated for plumbing fixture performance based on the 2006 state energy code.
Three strategies that propelled Chidley North to meet the energy mandate were: an insulated concrete form (ICF) bearing wall assembly, an energy recovery system, and an aluminum sunshade assembly used at the curtain wall sections of the building’s exterior.
Commenting on the decision to use ICF rather than a more traditional concrete masonry exterior wall assembly, West says, “We went with the ICF approach for its insulating capacity, expeditious construction, and its performance in a geographic area where we see great variances in temperature.”
The assembly of the building envelope resulted in a relatively high insulation properties, which would result in reduced energy use for heating and cooling.
Detailing the assembly, West says, “The structure of the building is primarily concrete load-bearing exterior walls and interior concrete masonry unit (CMU) load-bearing walls supporting precast hollow core concrete planks. ICF was chosen as the exterior wall system primarily for its thermal insulating performance characteristics. With 2½” insulation on either side of the concrete bearing walls, the entire assembly—brick veneer, 2″ airspace, 2½” ICF, 8″ concrete, 2½” ICF, and gypsum wallboard—has an R-value of 24. The structurally comparable conventional residence hall assembly would be a CMU structure with 2″ of insulation on the exterior of the structure. All other things being equal, the R-value of that system would be 14, which is 42% less than the chosen system.”
The ICF approach, while more costly than some other construction types, made sense for NCCU when considering long-term costs. Says Lennon, “In comparing options for the exterior wall structure, this was the most economical, based on a 20 year life cycle cost analysis that took into consideration the capital investment and annual electricity cost.”
The building’s energy recovery system pretreats outside ventilation air by recovering the embodied energy in the exhaust air. It reduces the difference between the outside and inside air temperatures and humidity levels by 50%. In addition, a high efficiency chilled water plant in the basement provides cooling at a lower cost.
Explains West, “All of the air from the restroom areas must be exhausted. Additionally, the building has four 100% outside air handling units, each of which has an enthalpy or heat recovery wheel. The HVAC system was designed to pass the exhaust air from the toilet and bathroom areas through the enthalpy wheel, allowing for the heat exchange to pre-temper all the air brought into the air handling units for ventilation.”
He continues, “Using waste energy to precool or preheat the air offsets the differential between outside air temperature and the desired indoor air temperature. This design decision allowed the system to be sized smaller, reducing energy use and long-term costs. The upcharge for the enthalpy wheel and additional ductwork was minimal, yielding a payback of a couple of years. In the long run, it is essentially free energy.”
In order to meet the legislative mandate to reduce potable water use, Chidley North’s design also incorporated a 28,000 gallon underground cistern to collect rainwater from the site, the roof, and area drains. The cistern also collects and reclaims condensate returned from the HVAC system. The collected water is used for site irrigation.
Impact On Operations
To facilitate residents’ comfort, each suite features its own HVAC control system that allows students to adjust the temperature +/-4°F. “Having individual control allows for temperature adjustment to accommodate special situations,” says Lennon. “And the maintenance staff has reported this helps them to identify room temperature problems reported by students.”
With one year of operation complete, Chidley North’s design is delivering in terms of performance, according to Lennon. “The building’s energy costs and consumption are currently exceeding the predicted savings of 33.4% reduced costs and 36.6% reduced consumption. Energy usage is tracked through submeters and energy bills. The university is working on a program to trend and archive the data collected by the direct digital control system on a weekly basis, and examined monthly to verify proper data collection to track steam usage better.”
“We have a building that will be perfectly fine for the next 100 years,” says Lennon. “The ICF walls, roofing system, and overall structure and integrity of the building have resulted in a strong, sturdy facility built for the long term. Chidley North is designed to save energy, and it will pay off over time.”
Name of Facility: Chidley North Residence Hall at North Carolina Central University (NCCU). Type of Facility: New Construction. Function of Facility: Residence hall, computer lab, smart classroom. Location: Durham, NC. Square Footage: 134,000. Budget: $23.5 million (construction). Construction Timetable: February 2010 to July 2012. Cost Per Square Foot: $175 (construction). Facility Owner: NCCU. In-House Facility Management: Walter Lennon, facilities project manager; Christopher Medley, residential life. Architect/Interior Designer/LEED Consultant: Lord, Aeck & Sargent. General Contractor/Construction Manager: Rodgers/Russell/Dayeco (Raleigh, NC), a joint venture of H.J. Russell & Company (Atlanta) and Rodgers Builders, Inc. (Charlotte, NC) – construction manager at risk. Electrical/Mechanical Engineer: Stanford White (Raleigh, NC). Structural Engineer: Stewart Engineering. Lighting Designer: Lord, Aeck & Sargent; Stanford White. Landscape Architect: Haden-Stanziale.
Furnishings: Carolina (occasional tables); Folio Furniture (residence rooms); Indiana Desk Systems (offices); KI (classrooms); Lowenstein (lounge seating); New Spec (dining tables); Sauder Seating (resident room chairs); SitOnIt (office seating); Nucraft (classrooms); OFS (office seating); Versteel (classrooms); Zoom (office seating). Flooring: DalTile (ceramic/porcelain tile); Forbo (linoleum); Mondo (VCT); Wellmade (bamboo). Carpet: Lees. Ceilings: Armstrong. Paint: Olympic; Sherwin-Williams. Building Management System: TAC, a company of Schneider Electric. Fire System Components: Siemens. Lighting: Beacon; Bega; Focal Point; Kenall; Lithonia; Prudential. HVAC Equipment: Carrier (chillers; fan coil units); York (air handling units). Power Supply Equipment: CAT (generator); Square D (switchgear); Tripp-Lite, Inc (UPS). IT Infrastructure: Cisco (digital signage, network equipment); Continental Instruments, Inc. (building access control). Roofing: Johns Mansville; VM Zinc. Signage: ASI Signage Innovations. Exit Signs: Lithonia. Windows/Curtainwalls/Skylights: Cardinal; Jeld-Wen (windows); PPG (window wall assemblies); Vistawall (window wall). Doors: Curries, an ASSA ABLOY company; Oshkosh Door Company. Elevators/Escalators: KONE. Other Systems: Construction Specialties (sunshade system); Stay-Right Precast Concrete Inc. (rainwater cistern); Polysteel (insulated concrete formwork).