Warren Wilson College News

National Press

The Ecodorm

    What national and regional publications are writing about the EcoDorm:

    "The EcoDorm that opened in July 2003 at Warren Wilson College…is saving the earth in dozens of ways. Awnings over the windows are solar panels that turn heat from the sun into electricity. Rain water that runs off the roof is collected in an underground cistern — a recycled railroad tank — and reused to flush toilets and irrigate the grounds. Wood for the interior trim and siding is either recycled — from old fence posts, for example — or was grown on campus, which means no trucks were polluting the air while delivering it from miles away. The painting on the outside of the building has ceramic powder in it, so it reflects heat. Two of the 10 toilets are composting. They don't use water, and the remaining solid waste can be returned to the earth. And plans call for landscaping, every bit of which will feed man or beast…."
    — The Charlotte Observer, March 28, 2004

    Environmental Movement Growing at Schools

    "Next fall, Warren Wilson College will open an 'EcoDorm' on its Asheville, N.C., campus. The residence hall is built almost entirely with reusable and recycled materials, such as wooden farm fences that were turned into siding. Solar fuel cells will convert sunlight into electricity and heat. Runoff from the roof, funneled through a converted 10,000-gallon railroad tank car, will provide water to the building and grounds. The dorm will also feature composting toilets and waterless urinals. Best of all for students hit with sudden hunger pangs, all the property's shrubs and other plants will be edible."
    — The New York Times, December 27, 2002

    If You Build It, They Will Come

    "Mention green construction and most higher ed administrators roll their eyes…. [Green buildings] don't do a whole lot for the institutional bottom line, detractors usually argue. Douglas Orr Jr., president of Warren Wilson College (NC), and Larry Modlin, VP of Business there, would beg to differ. Their EcoDorm, which will open this August and house 36 students, will not only be a 'learning laboratory' (and, come fall, a highlight on the campus tour, says Orr), but it will be a real money-saver, as well…. The $1.5 million dorm, which is being constructed partly by student work teams interested in learning more about architecture and the environment, includes a number of features designed to cut heating and electricity bills. A radiant floor-heating system will keep the 10,000 square-foot space comfortable during the winter for an estimated one-third the cost to heat a similar-sized building via conventional means. Other features, such as solar hot-water collectors that will preheat water before it comes into the boiler, and photovoltaic panels that will convert the sun's energy into electricity, will reduce the overall natural gas bill for the dorm from thousands to a mere $400 during the months of November, December, and January combined."
    — excerpted with permission from University Business magazine, May 2003,

    A Sustainable Movement

    "It may look like a simple [building] set against a wooded hillside, but the EcoDorm being built at Warren Wilson College is on the cutting edge of a new movement to make universities friendlier to the environment. Along with other students at Warren Wilson, Olya Milenkaya, an environmental studies major… began working with college administrators to design a new dormitory that would use natural resources such as sunlight, shade, and breezes more efficiently while implementing eco-friendly technologies like photovoltaic panels for electricity and solar space and water heating. According to Olya, the EcoDorm is a great opportunity for her, and the thirty-five other students that will be living there when it opens next fall, to 'live out [environmental] values more fully.'"
    — WireTap magazine, December 18, 2002

    Building 'green' communities

    "'EcoDorm' residence hall will reap substantial savings when compared to similar, traditional buildings, says Jim Samsel, the architect behind the design of the environmentally-friendly structure currently under construction at the Warren Wilson College…. The energy savings will come from the installation of passive solar and thermal mass, high efficiency equipment, radiant floor heating, and photovoltaic and fuel cell energy. In fact, Samsel tells us that energy savings could range from 30 to 50 percent! College president Doug Orr says the [dorm] will house 36 students as well as operate as a learning laboratory. 'The EcoDorm, in a single building, not only provides an example of student ownership – students were heavily involved in the research and planning of the building project – but a stewardship model that shows good environmental practices in new construction and renovation.'"
    — Community Improvement Projects & Funding newsletter, Vol. 7, No. 6, 2002


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