Radical Design Paradigms For Sustainable Construction at Kalamazoo College

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Smith, Adam
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In June 2007 Kalamazoo College committed to pursue carbon neutrality by signing the American Colleges and Universities Presidential Climate Commitment. In November 2008 the College conducted a greenhouse gas inventory which found that 10,666.4 tons C02 equivalent, representing 74.6% of the College's total emissions were attributable to electricity consumption and on-campus combustion for heating and domestic hot water. This suggests that the major barrier to carbon neutrality for the College is the built environment (Kalamazoo College, 2010). Of all the buildings on campus, Hoben Hall has gone the longest without a major renovation, fully 74 years. That is an extreme case, but an ideal lifespan for a construction project is still 30-40 years and even an aggressive renovation schedule would take 40-50 years to reach all of the major campus buildings (Man strom , 2010). This suggests that an incremental approach to improvements in building energy efficiency is not an option if carbon neutrality in our lifetime is the goal. Rather, I propose that the time has come for a radical approach. The goal of every project should be to produce the most energy efficient building possible. Each project will be a learning process and will enable an even higher efficiency to be achieved in the next building. Radical efficiency improvements will require a paradigm shift in design, construction and operations practices. This paper will open with a discussion of current green building standards and an overview of efficiency measures which have already been undertaken on campus. I will argue that the current approach has value but does not go far enough, eventually introducing several techniques which would enable the College to reach new levels of building efficiency. Those will then be applied to a case study so that their effect and life cycle cost may be reliably evaluated against "best practices" design. The case study will put forward an alternative design for the Upjohn Library Commons as currently constructed. This case study is particularly attractive because the library is the second most efficient building on campus thanks to its recent renovation. It is also typical of campus buildings in its scale, use and orientation. That suggests that any efficiency gains achieved in the model may be safely applied as guidelines elsewhere on campus.
47 p.
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