The Ohio State University’s Residence Halls’ Reducing Dependency on Fossil Fuels

 It's hard to miss the construction taking place in the south residential district, including the South Oval.  The South High Rises (Smith, Steeb, Park, Stradley and Siebert) are being renovated and the new William Hall Complex residence hall is being constructed now.   Part of that work on these projects includes some beneficial energy reducing methods.   

 The primary method is the geothermal heating and cooling system.   The premise of geothermal is simple.  The temperatures below the surface of the earth remain at a constant temperature year round.   During the winter months a geothermal system absorbs this extra heat from the earth and transfers it into the building.   During the summer, the system takes heat from indoors and moves it back underground.    This transfer of heat is accomplished by a closed loop system that is installed in each of the wells.    The wells being drilled now will provide the heating and cooling for all of the buildings listed above (yes, AC for the High Rises!) and it is planned that they will also serve the low rise residence halls in the south area within the next decade.

 Other approaches to saving energy in these buildings include:

  • Utilizing energy efficient lighting - this will provide good lighting levels for students while reducing energy usage. More natural light will be provided and this will further reduce the energy required for lighting.
  • Re-insulating the walls to increase the R-value in the high rises from R-3 to R-18. This will dramatically reduce the amount of energy being lost. The new windows being installed are also very energy efficient.
  • The plumbing fixtures will reduce the amount of water used in the building and the domestic hot water will be provided by instantaneous hot water heaters. This will reduce the energy wasted in the large hot water storage tanks that were traditionally used.

 The William Hall Complex Expansion project is utilizing the concepts listed above and is also using metering to monitor the energy usage in the building.   The plan is to collect the data from the meters and display the usage on a monitor located in the building so that all students and staff can see how much energy and water they are utilizing.   The hope is that this will encourage each individual to do their part to reduce energy usage and save the earth's resources.   In addition, the new Hall Complex building will utilize far more natural light than the traditional residence hall which will reduce the amount of lighting used, and will help with heat gain in the winter.   Shading devices are being installed to help reduce this heat gain in the summer.   The building will also include an indoor bicycle storage room that will help encourage students to ride more and drive less.   Very high efficiency equipment is being installed for the building chillers, boilers, water heaters and ventilation systems.   This equipment is 90-95% efficient, which is significantly higher than industry standards.

Both the South Rise Renovation project and the William Hall Complex project are striving to achieve LEED Silver Accreditation.    Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design  (LEED) is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third party verification that a building has been designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance in areas that matter most.   These include energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor air quality, and stewardship of resources.     Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

 Most larger projects at The University are now required to achieve LEED certification, so most of the projects under construction will be LEED certified.   Buildings that have already achieved this rating include the new Ohio Union and the 4-H Building.