Sustainable Buildings

Buildings at College of the Atlantic reflect the college's commitment to sustainability. Of the eight residences on campus, four were historically summer cottages. The remaining four dorms, Blair Tyson and the Kathryn W. Davis Student Residence Village, were more recently built with sustainability in mind. Blair Tyson features sustainably harvested wood, bathrooms with water-conserving fixtures, including low-consumption toilets, and a full community kitchen in each section reducing the need for individual mini-fridges and microwaves. The newest and "greenest" buildings on campus are the Kathryn W. Davis Student Residences, featuring the campus's most recent sustainable innovations:

  • Heat and domestic hot water are supplied by a centralized wood pellet boiler burning a renewable fuel manufactured in Maine.
  • Fresh air is provided to the living spaces through a heat recovery ventilation system that tempers incoming cold air by preheating it with outgoing warm air.
  • Walls are packed with twelve inches of insulation made from recycled cellulose. Just as the walls retain heat in winter, in summer the buildings stay comfortably cool.
  • Residences are oriented to utilize passive solar energy and incorporate “light shelf” technology that directs natural light to interior spaces.
  • Showers have a heat recovery system that uses gray water from shower and sink drains to temper incoming cold water, thereby reducing the amount of hot water needed.
  • Light fixtures in the village are either compact fluorescent or LEDs, some with motion sensors that turn off automatically when not needed.
  • Furniture and fabrics are easy to care for and sustainably manufactured. Interior paint is free of volatile organic compounds to protect indoor air quality.
  • Each house also features composting toilets serving the second and third floors.

pellet boilerEnergy: In a 2013 partnership with ReVision Energy, ninety-six solar panels were installed at COA’s Peggy Rockefeller Farms and three separate arrays totaling ninety-nine panels were installed at the Kathryn W. Davis Residence Village.

Heating: Thermostats are generally set by our Buildings and Grounds staff. Where feasible thermostats are turned down to approximately 62 degrees at night and raised to 68 degrees during the day.

Lighting: LED bulbs are installed in the dining hall booths as well as the kitchen. Ninety-six LEDs are installed in various buildings around campus including the main administrative building. Motion sensors control lights in the hallways of the Kathryn W. Davis Student Residences. An energy audit by Johnson Controls Inc. in 2008 found that members of the College of the Atlantic community were diligent about turning off lights when leaving rooms, so motion sensors have not been installed in other buildings.

Recent renovations: Built in 1895, the granite stone, 13,000 square foot 'cottage' known as the Turrets was renovated in 2013 by replacing 99 old, leaky single pane windows with new thermopane (double glazed) windows. Air sealing dramatically tightened the building. Before and after renovation blower door tests found a 49% reduction in air infiltration. This improvement saved 1400 gallons of heating oil during the 2013-2014 winter. Another old ocean-front cottage known as Sea Urchins was also renovated in 2008 and hooked into the central wood pellet boiler system which provides both heat and hot water to the Kathryn W. Davis Student Residences.

Appliances: All new appliances are Energy Star Rated.

Additional efforts: In Fall 2011, students installed solar panels on the ceramics studio. Energy efficiency was improved at Beech Hill Farm by installing a wind turbine, two separate solar arrays, and a wood pellet heater for the new greenhouse. In addition, an air-to-air heat pump was installed in the farmhouse to supplement two propane heaters and a wood stove. A fall 2011 project provided an opportunity for students to learn about heat pumps, how they work, and what factors to consider when installing them. The heat pump’s performance will be monitored to assess its relative contribution to meeting the heat load of the farmhouse. Students who have participated in these projects want to encourage more students to become involved, so they can learn about energy and how to use it efficiently.

Campus Landscape

COA's campus and properties are managed in an ecologically sensitive manner, without the use of synthetic fertilizers or chemical pesticides. Our landscape plans and management are based on the overarching campus goals of promoting sustainability, biodiversity, and educational opportunity.

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