While construction workers focus on the finishing touches, students are carrying bags and suitcases into the new Olympia Avenue student housing facility – WSU’s first green dormitory.
The first student housing facility constructed on the WSU Pullman campus since 1972 will set a new standard of quality for residential life, offering flexibility to adapt to students’ changing needs while reflecting the University’s values in sustainability and our commitment to enhancing the student experience.
This project is anticipating a LEED™ Silver rating while maintaining WSU’s distinctive materials palette. Several innovative “green” strategies are incorporated including geothermal heating and cooling, natural day lighting, sun shading devices to minimize heat load, site restoration with natural habitat and vegetation, water efficient landscaping, stormwater collection and reuse for irrigation, high reflective roof to reduce heat island effect, reduction of light pollution, educational signage system, water-use reduction in the building, construction waste management, use of regional materials, recycled materials and certified wood where possible.
According to Louise Sweeney, project manager for Capital Planning and Development, water pipes from the dormitory run under Olympia Avenue into the adjacent Rogers-Orton cricket field – which is being used as the “well field” for geothermal heating and cooling.
The well field acts as a heat sink – providing water at a stable temperature year round.
“The pipes are filled with a glycol-water solution that stabilizes at the temperature of the earth that it runs through,” said Sweeney. “Then the solution brings that temperature back into the building to either heat or cool it depending on the season. During summer, it brings in 50 degree water – which runs through the building to keep it cool.”
Although the water is still 50 degrees in winter, Sweeney said it goes through a heat exchanger which removes enough heat to help warm the building.
“You don’t have to heat cold water from 30 degrees to 70 degrees, so it’s more efficient than a conventional system,” she said.
The ground floor contains a central two-story lounge with a gas fireplace, the main entrance, classroom, meeting room and media center and other public functions designed to encourage student interaction. These spaces open to a large outdoor plaza on the west side and gardens to the east that showcase native Palouse vegetation. Every floor is equipped with a central “active” lounge focused on the main plaza below, as well as a “passive” study lounge facing exterior views of the surrounding area.
Students recommended a variety of room plan designs, including fourperson suites, two doubles sharing a bath/shower room, two singles sharing a bath/shower room, doubles and singles with their own bath/shower rooms, and doubles and singles that use a common bath/shower room. Each floor will have a lounge/study/kitchen/laundry area that is a common place to gather; students said informal interaction strongly correlates with their satisfaction with living in a residence hall.
The hall will house approximately 230 residents.