By Steve Rizer
When taking on a green building project as ambitious as the one for Berea College’s Deep Green Residence Hall (DGRH) in Kentucky, what is the best approach? What is the secret to achieving a 90-point Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum designation like the one for DGRH? These are questions that ConstructionPro Week asked Christopher Chivetta, Hastings + Chivetta Architects’ president and the company’s principal in charge on the Berea project, during a recent interview.
“To get to a LEED 90-point Platinum project, we had to look at a multitude of sustainability options very early on, and we had to rate those options on what was really doable, what was feasible, and what was affordable,” Chivetta said. “I think that was a really big component. When you’re trying to go for this many LEED points” and ensure the sustainability of a building, “you really have to consider all options. We looked at rainwater retention systems, greywater systems, blackwater systems. We looked at solar photovoltaics…. We had to look at a multitude of options for sustainability to really kind of push the envelope a little bit.”
In pushing this envelope, “you kind of start down a path [where] you’re looking at what I call ‘cutting edge technology’ or ‘cutting edge systems,’” Chivetta noted. “So, you have to be aware and be able to kind of understand that you might be buying the first of a product and the second or third out there. So, you have to be comfortable with that [insofar as] you’re a test case, you might say, to some extent.”
To minimize the risks that such an approach can present, “we tried to make sure that if we incorporate some new technology and new systems into the building, if somebody had done it one or two times before, we would do a lot of research and … talk to them” to gauge how those technologies and systems actually performed, Chivetta said.
DGRH is a 42,000-square-foot, three-story facility with 66 rooms that house approximately 120 students. It is believed to be the highest-scoring LEED-certified residence hall in the world. The building was designed in a collaborative architectural partnership between Hastings (lead designers) and Hellmuth + Bicknese (sustainability consultants), with broad representation and input from members of the Berea College community.
The ConstructionPro Network member version of this article includes additional comments that Chivetta made during the interview and a list of DGRH's green building features.