Easton Hall Construction: Sustainability in Action
The recently completed Easton Hall isn't just a beautiful building, it's also a great example of ecological sustainability—protecting the underground river and aquifer, planting knockout roses that don't need irrigation, using natural light from skylights, and sheltering much of the building's foundation below ground level, and more.
"The first step was deciding to better utilize the existing natural space by attaching the new building to Brubaker Hall as opposed to the standalone building first proposed in the University Master Plan," says Tom Macchi, Associate Vice President for Facilities and Capital Planning. "This change allowed for great savings through the piggy backing of building systems such as the elevator and firm alarm systems, as well as the introduction of a much desired water feature to be enjoyed by many. The site changes also created a beautiful valley and did not overpower the existing historic bridge and its original setting."
- An engineered storm water management system that collects the building's storm water runoff and holds it below ground until it percolates through the soil is present below the fire lane pathway. This system dramatically reduces storm water runoff and protects the surrounding watershed.
- An "old" underground river, which was "reawakened" due to the Route 309 Construction, was captured and protected with an extensive piping system being set in place to allow for this precious aquifer to continue on its path, unabated, into the watershed further downstream.
- Best management preservation practices were utilized during construction to prevent sedimentation, erosion and damage to adjacent trees and bushes.
- Several trees and plants were "spaded" (transplanted) out of the way of the construction footprint and reused in other areas of campus.
- Bike racks will be provided to promote alternative transportation.
- A new Septa bus stop was added in front of the Easton Road Arcadia University entrance. This makes it possible, as it's within easy walking distance to the building, to potentially reduce the use of single-occupancy vehicles.
- No additional parking spaces were necessary for this building. The current number of spaces available is well within the required zoning requirements, which allowed the University to preserve green space.
- The building site and landscaping design (which protected and preserved several "old growth trees") allowed for a shading of the site, which helps reduce the "heat island effect."
- Designing a building that "goes up, not out" significantly reduces the environmental footprint of the structure. The Easton Hall building design created 18,000 square feet of new learning space using only 6,500 square feet of existing green space to accomplish this site development.
- Low-flow plumbing fixtures are used throughout the building.
- The landscaping design utilizes vegetation adapted to the regional climate. A copious amount of ground covers, which are drought tolerant and will help reduce the amount of mulch used in the future, have been planted throughout the yard and fire lane approach. Of particular interest are newly installed "knockout roses" which bloom from May through November producing thousands of beautiful red petals with no irrigation required to support these plants. Everyone one of the plants installed at this building site regenerates/propagates itself each season, which eliminates future costs for plant material.
- The new pond system recycles its water content, as well as allows for the introduction and treatment of captured rainwater, through a filtration system. Water lost through evaporation automatically is replaced only as needed via a state-of-the-art electronic sensing system.
- All make-up water used in the pond is not subjected to a sewer charge as the pond water is lost due to evaporation and does not travel downstream into the sewer plant. The pond has a water meter that tracks exact gallons used per year. This calculation is deducted from the University water bill every December and results in a substantial savings.
- Pond water drained during the yearly maintenance cycle is used to irrigate adjacent lands in lieu of dispersal via the existing underground drainage system.
- A small plant irrigation system uses an advanced electronically controlled irrigation station that senses rain and adjusts local irrigation needs accordingly.
- Phase two planning involves capturing additional storm water runoff and reusing same in the pond as needed from the adjacent retention pond area.
- The introduction of natural light via skylights into the upper floor hallway as well as in the lobby areas overlooking the pond not only provides for an open, refreshing and dramatic environment, but also reduces the need for continuous artificial lighting.
- Automatic occupancy sensors were installed in various parts of the building to reduce energy consumption when spaces are not in use.
- Earth Sheltering: The building and site design allowed for nearly half of the buildings foundation to be set below ground level. This aspect provides an interior climate that is generally closer to a comfort level than that of a conventional space allowing for reduced heating and cooling demands. Window wells in this area of the building allow for a transfer of natural light.
- Energy-efficient lighting fixtures were included to reduce the amount of energy needed to light the building.
- The Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system controls have advanced capability and options that respond to outdoor and indoor conditions as well as building schedule demands to conserve energy and improve air quality.
- The mechanical system incorporates energy-efficient motors and fans.
- The water heating and building heating systems are state-of-the-art, highly efficient systems.
- Roofing system design: The building's unique lightweight concrete insulation panel design resulted in a significant increase in "R" value benefits, thus allowing for additional energy savings.
- The pond lighting system is on timers, as is the filtration system, allowing these systems to be turned off in the early morning hours until daybreak.
- The pond lighting system also incorporates state-of-the-art low voltage lighting, advanced lighting controls, as well an extremely low voltage LED lights in several areas adjacent to the pond.
- The building design allowed for a shared use of several systems already in place in the adjacent Brubaker building. "Piggybacking" off of the existing Brubaker fire alarm system, ADA accessible entrances, elevator, bathrooms, and utility rooms resulted in a significant savings of money (several hundred thousand dollars) in the design of this new facility. This is a dramatic example of how innovation and really thoughtful design optimizes the use of the University's precious financial resources.
- As the Easton hall project progressed, additional attention was paid to the adjacent/attached Brubaker Hall building. Upgrades to existing finishes, as well as the replacement of VCT tile with matching carpeting throughout this building, not only allowed for a seamless transition, but also eliminated the tedious and costly custodial care associated with VCT tile. As a result, the University created quieter hallways and also reduced the amount of daily maintenance to the existing building as well as in the new building.
- Local materials (within a 500 mile radius) and materials containing recycled content were used whenever possible.
Indoor Environmental Quality
- The HVAC system supplies fresh air, which improves indoor air quality.
- During construction, the mechanical system equipment was protected to prevent contamination from dust, dirt, and debris.
- The windows are operable, allowing users to get fresh air when desired.
- The building was designed to provide natural daylight and views to the outside.
- The mechanical system equipment is located away from occupied spaces to prevent noise pollution.
- In the café area, a second set of glass doors was installed to prevent sound as well as cold air from migrating into the rest of the building from this heavily used facility.