Green building isn't a new concept to Denison; the Denison Homestead, created in the 1970s, and historic Barney-Davis Hall, renovated in 1996, stand as proof of the college's commitment to sustainable building practices. In 2008, Denison made a commitment for all new campus construction to be built to sustainable standards, as set by the LEED rating system. Since then the Bryant Arts Center, Ebaugh Laboratories, Trumbull Aquatics Center, and Chamberlin Hall have all undergone renovation and have been certified as LEED Gold buildings. Denison is committed to ensuring that all new campus construction will be built to LEED Silver standards or better, as set by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system.
LEED, a green building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 1995, provides a list of standards for environmentally sustainable construction. Buildings can qualify for one of four levels of certification – certified, silver, gold or platinum — based on how many standards are met.
Cleveland Hall’s restoration as the new Bryant Arts Center, completed in the fall of 2009, represents Denison’s commitment to sustainable construction, earning LEED Gold Certification. The Bryant Arts Center construction was originally conceived as a lowest-level LEED certification project, but with his senior research project, environmental studies major Zach Thomas ’07 helped persuade the university to reach higher. More than 75 percent of the building’s original structure was retained or reused in the renovation.
Exposed brick walls throughout the building were built using materials salvaged during the interior demolition, while the entire exterior structure was retained and restored. Framed pieces of the building’s salvaged gym floor, spattered with paint drippings from decades of Denison artwork, are displayed on the walls to mirror how the space is being used — to reflect the history of art and explore its future. The building features advanced and efficient lighting, no-water urinals and low-flow toilet fixtures. The building also is surrounded by a lighter shade of concrete to help limit heat island effect, a phenomenon that causes temperature increase due to the urbanization of an area.
After a year of construction and renovation, Ebaugh Laboratories reopened in 2011, better equipped to serve the Chemistry and Biochemistry departments, adding 19,000 square feet of extra classrooms, laboratories, and offices. It also recently has been awarded LEED Gold Certification, the second building at Denison to earn this award, after the Bryant Arts Center. Ebaugh's renovation involved the repurposing of 800 tons of material, as well as sourcing some of its construction materials locally.
The renovation of Barney-Davis Hall restored the historic character of the building and now houses the McPhail Center for Environmental Studies and the English Department. The Barney renovation project was completed in 1998 and produced a place where environmental principles are upheld and demonstrated to the community. Upon the announcement of the gift, Dr. Abram W. Kaplan, director of Environmental Studies, remarked, "our growth has been phenomenal, and this is an incredible opportunity to build a Center that can both showcase an impressive array of environmental innovations and serve as a laboratory for learning about various aspects of the field”.
This project was especially distinctive because it recycled (reused) an existing building, instead of constructing a new building from the ground up. The new Barney-Davis Hall is a showcase for the reuse of an existing structure, energy-efficiency, sustainability, renewable resources, the reduction of toxins, and the recycling of wastes. The Barney renovation project was a real-life exercise in environmental education for the students and community of Denison University, and is now used as a working laboratory for education and research. Environmental Studies coursework often involves studying the technology and efficiency of the building.
The Homestead is a living-learning experience unique among American colleges and universities. It is a student-run living community with a focus on ecological sustainability.
Recent developments at the Homestead include the construction of the ecologically friendly Cabin Phoenix. Built after a fire destroyed Cabin 2, Cabin Phoenix sprung up from the ashes utilizing an "earth-ship" design. Completed in 2009, the cabin is now home to four of the twelve students that live at the Homestead each year. The foundation is made of rammed earth and used tires and the passive solar design allows the building to take advantage of natural lighting and heating.
The Trumbull Aquatics Center, opened in fall 2012, is LEED Gold certified and utilizes state of the art lighting systems, HVAC equipment and controls, reduced flow water consuming devices and other energy conservation equipment and strategies. The heating, ventilating and air conditioning system employs a number of strategies to reduce energy consumption.
- Heat exchangers are located in the three major air handling units that provide ventilation and temperature control for the natatorium, locker rooms and adjoining spaces. The heat exchangers transfer energy from the exhausted air to the fresh air being introduced into the spaces. As a result he need to heat, cool and dehumidify the incoming air is greatly reduced. The exchangers save between 50% and 70% of the energy normally required to condition the incoming air.
- A heat recovery chiller uses heat from areas in the building that normally need cooling to heat the pool water. Since many rooms in the interior of the building will need cooling year round, instead of using energy to remove the heat and rejecting it outdoors like a typical system might do, the heat is collected and used to heat the pool water.
- The gymnasiums and locker rooms throughout the building require a significant amount of fresh air to be introduced and exhausted to provide needed ventilation and humidity control. Typically, fresh air that is provided to each space is heated or cooled and then exhausted which is very energy intensive. The air handling and ventilation systems in the building are designed to use conditioned outside air twice before exhausting it. Conditioned air is supplied to rooms, such as offices and classrooms, and then allowed to flow to performance spaces and locker rooms before it is exhausted. By carefully engineering and operating the systems, fresh air that has been heated or cooled once is distributed in a manner that provides ventilation, temperature, humidity and odor control throughout the building – in effect saving almost half of the energy that would be used by a typical system.
- The boilers used to provide domestic and heating hot water are condensing boilers that can reach 95% or higher efficiency. The size of the domestic water storage tank has been reduced to the minimum and the heating system loop utilizes 125°F water instead of the 180-200°F water temperatures used in many conventional systems – both strategies are designed to reduce heat loss and save energy.
Chamberlin Hall was renovated and reopened in 2012 as Denison’s newest apartment-style residence, accommodating 56 seniors. The building was redesigned and constructed with energy-efficiency and water conservation in mind. It's application for LEED Certification is in process and anticipated to be LEED Gold.