Green Buildings Sprouting Up Across Villanova University Campus

An 80-year old Villanova dormitory got a “green” makeover this summer

Driscoll Hall – home to the College of Nursing – became the first LEED-certified building on campus, receiving LEED-Gold Certification

VILLANOVA, Pa., Sept. 21, 2009 – An 80-year-old Villanova University dormitory has gotten a “green” makeover. Beginning last spring and continuing throughout the summer, Fedigan Hall went through a radical renovation process to create the University’s first completely eco-friendly dormitory

Bringing a dormitory from the 1930s into the new millennium was no small undertaking. The installation of the first geothermal wells on campus was a key step in the process. The ground source heat pump system supports a portion of the building’s heating and cooling and provides learning and research opportunities for College of Engineering faculty and students, who assisted in the renovation project

Fedigan Hall’s sustainable features also include:

  • Lighting: Each room is equipped with an occupancy sensor to detect motion and body heat. If a student accidentally left a light on after leaving for class, the sensor will automatically turn it off.
  • Rain Gardens: Rain water from the roof is diverted into two rain gardens to slowly release the water back to its natural cycle. Civil engineering and other students will be conducting experiments on the efficiency of the gardens thanks in part to a Pennsylvania “Growing Greener” Grant.
  • Plumbing: Each shower has a low-flow shower head with a mechanical timer to promote water conservation. Dual-flush toilets use more or less water per flush as needed. The bathroom sink faucets have also been equipped with automatic motion sensors.
  • Porous Paving: New walkways are made of porous asphalt that allows water to infiltrate the ground instead of running off into local sewers.
  • Recycling: Ninety percent of the resulting construction waste from the renovation was put into recycling efforts instead of sending it to landfills.
  • Furniture: The new furniture installed in the building is made of recyclable material.

Fedigan Hall will do more than introduce undergraduates to environmentally friendly living and benefit the local watershed. The new upgrades are also expected to reduce the dormitory’s energy and operating costs. Local Philadelphia firm Blackney Hayes Architects was responsible for Fedigan Hall’s new design, while King of Prussia firm Irwin & Leighton was used for its construction.

Continuing the green trend across campus, Driscoll Hall – home to the College of Nursing – recently received LEED-Gold Certification, becoming the first LEED-certified building on campus. Opened in August 2008, Driscoll Hall was built using recycled content in construction materials, as well as locally sourced materials.

Like Fedigan Hall, Driscoll Hall also showcases a number of sustainable design principles, including a reflective roof membrane to reduce heat build-up during the day, a high-efficiency HVAC system to save at least 20 percent a year compared to conventional systems, daylight sensors that reduce the need for artificial light and water-saving plumbing features.

Villanova now pursues LEED-Silver Certification on all new construction and major renovations, including the University’s new School of Law building, which opened its doors last month.

Sustainability is evident throughout the Villanova campus including in the dining halls, where students enjoy menus designed around local and seasonal foods, which boosts local farms, cuts down on transportation costs and waste, and gives students access to the freshest food available. Villanova has a comprehensive recycling program and composts food leftovers. The three main dining halls on campus are also completely “trayless,” an initiative begun last year that reduces the quantity of wasted food and beverages. In addition, Villanova Dining Services is looking to implement a new refillable water bottle program to cut down on additional waste, an initiative that sprung from a Villanova student’s thesis project in spring 2009.

In June of 2007, Villanova University President, the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment – an effort to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions and to accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate. Villanova’s Commitment to Sustainability now involves all of the schools and colleges that make up the University, as well as other departments and programs throughout campus. For more information on the many eco-friendly programs and innovations across the University, visit: http://www.villanova.edu/sustainability/

Villanova University, a co-educational Roman Catholic institution, was founded by the Order of Saint Augustine in 1842. A premier institution of higher education, Villanova provides a comprehensive education rooted in the liberal arts; a shared commitment to the Augustinian ideals of truth, unity and love; and a community dedicated to service to others. A wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered through the University’s four colleges: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering and the College of Nursing, as well as the Villanova School of Law. With a total enrollment that surpasses 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students, Villanova is the oldest and largest Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.