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Living Green


Living Green o


Green Learning Community

Untreated water runoff from building sites and parking lots is one of the main causes of erosion and contributes to pollution of the nation’s waterways. To simplify maintenance, reduce pollution and decrease the disturbance of habitats and water, West “Green” Quad planners used traditional methods along with creative designs to reduce erosion and runoff during the construction phase and later during the habitation of the building.

The Green Learning Community is an innovative community of 25-30 students who take the initiative to experiment with the personal, cultural, and environmental changes required to create a more sustainable society. Students in the Green Learning Community live on the same floor and participate in special programs. They help organize field trips to places and events of interest, occasional community meals, informal meetings with faculty members, visiting scholars, and activists, on-going research projects, and also help maintain an organic garden. These activities are included in the one-credit course members of the Green Learning Community register for each semester.


Stormwater Conservation Features:

Green Buildings

Buildings in the U.S. have a tremendous impact on the environment, both during their construction and later in operation. • Building construction annually consumes 40% of raw materials, 17% of fresh water and 25% of global virgin-wood harvest. • Construction also contributes up to 40% of the municipal solid waste generated, 50% of the chlorofluorocarbons and 30% of the CO2 produced. • Later, occupied buildings continue to pollute the environment, accounting annually for 49% of the sulfur dioxide emissions, 25% of nitrous oxide emissions and half the greenhouse gases. • Buildings use more than 60% of our electricity and are responsible for one-third of the nation’s total energy consumption. Green buildings utilize and integrate design and construction approaches that work to minimize or eliminate the impact of buildings on the environment and their occupants. Green building is a major aspect of sustainable development that ensures building performance, preservation of natural resources, enhancement of health and productivity, and reduction of operational costs. Green buildings utilize site planning, energy and water efficiency, material and resource selection, and the promotion of indoor environmental quality.

Impact of West “Green” Quad The first sustainably designed, LEED-certified building at the University of South Carolina • Catalyst for sustainable design commitment for all new construction at the University of South Carolina • Catalyst for Innovista sustainability principles • Catalyst for sustainable design legislation in South Carolina • Catalyst for founding of the first S.C. chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council • Site for one of the first LEED training workshops for design and construction industry in S.C. • Catalyst for increasing the number of LEED-accredited architects in S.C. to more than 250 in 2007 from zero in 2001. • Model for colleges and universities around the United States.

Stormwater Management

Students tend to the stormwater remediating plants around West “Green” Quad.

o Indoor Environmental Quality Americans spend nearly 90% of their time inside, so indoor environmental quality (IEQ) is an important consideration in building construction. IEQ refers to air quality, thermal comfort, natural lighting, and views of the outside. Many studies have shown over the years that good IEQ increases productivity, improves mental well-being, and reduces the incidence of related illnesses. Studies have also shown increases in traditional depth of learning in green educational facilities. Increased fresh air ventilation and the avoidance of pollutants (in material selection and during the construction processes) enhance the internal air quality of West “Green” Quad. Also, allowing individuals to control their own temperature settings and providing sufficient access to natural lighting and outdoor views make West “Green” Quad’s IEQ better than those of traditional residence halls. The University of South Carolina’s commitment to sustainable building supports the Healthy Carolina initiative ( healthycarolina), which promotes the overall health and well-being of faculty, staff and students.

Methods of Improving IEQ:

• Air quality plan • Protection of ductwork and filter replacement • CO2 monitoring for common areas • Continuous fresh air intake • Operable windows and thermostats • Extensive daylighting to all occupied spaces • Use of low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) products such as paints, furniture, and carpeting • Continuous filtering and pre-treatment of outside air

• Turf Roof – absorbs runoff, reduces the heat-island effect and naturally insulates the Learning Center (allowing the water to dissipate slowly produces a natural cooling effect) • Terrace System – doubles as an amphitheater while controlling water flow and filtering system • Xeriscaping – uses native plants that require minimal water and maintenance • Pervious paving system – provides walkways and allows water drainage • Phytoremediation – uses plants, which are grown by the University’s faculty and students, that aid in the removal of excess water and have a natural filtering effect on contaminants • Construction of wetlands and sedimentation basin – absorbs excess water and filters sediment while providing a habitat for wildlife


Energy Conservation

Buildings have tremendous effect not only on national energy usage, but also on consumption of natural resources and dependence on foreign sources. The largest financial operating cost of a building is its energy usage.

Energy Conservation Features:

• Day lighting and light-shelving system • Energy Star appliances • Solar pre-heating of domestic hot water • Occupancy sensors - controls lighting • Educational fuel cell - provides lighting and hot water for the Center for Sustainability • Ability to monitor apartment electricity consumption allows students to track their own usage • Charging stations - for alternative fuel vehicles • Compact fluorescent lights • Design and integration of high efficiency mechanical and electrical systems • System commissioning - used to improve and ensure design intent and effectiveness


Water Conservation

The U.S. consumes more than 340 billion gallons of fresh water per day. By utilizing state-of-the-art plumbing and irrigation systems, West “Green” Quad will conserve more than 20% of its annual water usage.

Water Conservation Features: • Low-flow fixtures - toilets, shower heads and sink aerators drastically reduce water usage • Waterless urinals - one of these can save up to 40,000 gallons a year • Automatic controls - turns off water when not in use • Drip irrigation system - reduces water usage by more than 50% in comparison to traditional sprinkler systems • High efficiency washers - conserve more than 2 million gallons a year

OUR VISION West “Green” Quad serves as a model and an advocate for sustainability, here on campus and in the community. Green values and a holistic perspective guide all aspects of our programs, operations, management, and facilities, creating a “green bubble” for the campus. West “Green” Quad also serves as an inspiration and motivation for other campus and community organizations and challenges everyone to explore how their actions can lead to a sustainable society.

Students use high-efficiency washers in the laundry room.



Recycling is a vital component of any sustainable facility. In addition to the well known consumer recycling opportunities, West “Green” Quad includes building materials with considerable recycled content, and many other products were selected for their ability to be recycled at the end of their use. This project recycled more than 9,000 cubic yards of material, an 89% recycling rate, refuse that otherwise would have gone to landfills. West “Green” Quad incorporated recycled content in the masonry, copper roof, carpeting, insulation, and office and room furniture. West “Green” Quad also obtained more than 60% of its materials from local and regional sources to reduce pollution associated with transportation and to help the local economies.

West “Green” Quad • Learning Center for Sustainable Futures • University of South Carolina 1216 Wheat Street • Building 146-D • Columbia, SC 29208 • telephone 803.777.1994 • e-mail University Housing • Designing Sustainable Communities for Living and Learning 1309 Blossom St. • Columbia, SC 29208 • telephone 803.777.4283 • e-mail • website

University Housing

Designing Sustainable Communities for Living and Learning

The University of South Carolina is an equal opportunity institution. • Printed on 100% post consumer recycled content paper using soy based ink. Fall 2010


West "Green" Quad West Quad o Background Sustainability: Development that meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. – United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development

West “Green” Quad, the first LEED-certified sustainably designed building project at the University of South Carolina, resulted from an informal conversation between Gene Luna, then director of University Housing and Bruce Coull, the former dean of the School of the Environment. Driven by the commitment to build a “green” community at the same cost as a traditional building project, University administrators worked with government, non-profit, and private sector sources to accomplish this ambitious goal. The Sustainable Universities Initiative – a statewide partnership of institutions of higher education committed to sustainability education and the integration of sustainable practices through research, teaching, community service, and facilities management – supported the concept of building a sustainable facility at the University. An interdisciplinary task force oversaw the educational aspects of the project, ensuring the unified commitment by the University of South Carolina community. Completed in August 2004, West “Green” Quad was the second newly constructed college/ university residence hall in the country to be LEED Silver Certified. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), specifies international standards for designing and building sustainable facilities. With four separate buildings, West “Green” Quad, when opened, was the largest sustainable college/university residence complex in the U.S., as well as the first LEED-certified living and learning community.

o Mission & Goals The mission of the West “Green” Quad is to create a living and learning community that incorporates sustainability into all aspects of its operations and that serves as a model and catalyst for sustainability on campus and in the larger community. Primary goals include: • Promote green values and a holistic perspective throughout all aspects of programs, operations, management, and facilities. • Create an environment that promotes academic success, personal development, and a respect for diversity. • Offer a wide variety of opportunities for residents to live a more sustainable lifestyle. • Structure educational programs to stimulate learning and action related to sustainability. • Offer opportunities for service learning, study abroad, and undergraduate research related to sustainability issues. • Promote the “green building” features as a model for other educational and community organizations.

o Learning Center for Sustainable Futures

The building uses low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets, thereby reducing water consumption by more than 20% compared to conventional fixtures.

SOLAR PANELS Solar preheated water saves energy and helps ensure a consistent supply of hot water for hall residents.

WEST “GREEN” QUAD AMPITHEATER The interior grounds of West “Green” Quad are a terraced ampitheater with turf and landscaped beds that contain plants specially chosen as part of the phytoremediation system. Together this area acts as a natural filter that reduces stormwater runoff to street drains and streams.

BICYCLIST CHANGING STATION Included in West “Green” Quad’s Learning Center for Sustainable Futures is a changing space for bicyclists. Open for use by members of the campus community, this facility has a shower and changing area for bicyclists commuting to campus.

LIGHT SHELVES All south-facing windows in the building include a “light shelf” that serves two functions - reflecting natural light into the interior rooms and shading from the heat of direct sunlight, thus reducing air-conditioning requirements.

XERISCAPING Xeriscaping is a method of landscaping that uses slowgrowing, drought-resistant plants native to an area. Plants used for phytoremediation around the building were grown, planted and will be maintained by students and faculty in the Biology Department.

The Learning Center for Sustainable Futures promotes collaborative relationships among students, faculty, staff, and community members for exploring the changes required to create a sustainable society. Programs include: Community Garden The garden is a resource for exploring issues related to food production, giving participants the chance to learn about organic gardening, native plant species, permaculture design, edible landscaping, and composting. Student Organizations The Learning Center hosts student organizations active on sustainability issues, providing meeting and office space and co-sponsoring events. Green Education Our programs promote a non-hierarchical structure, an emphasis on experiential learning and action, and extensive student participation in the design and evaluation of educational options. Initiatives include a “Green Pedagogy Series” as well as regular classes (“Environmental Ethics,” “Ecovillages & Sustainable Living,” “Next Energy,” and “Environmental Law”). Speaker Series Students, faculty, and community members have the opportunity to meet some of the leading national activists in the sustainability movement. Green Living Students are encouraged to think holistically about green values and experiment with following sustainable practices in their everyday lives. Green Action Film Series Films focus on green issues and are “action films” in the sense that they are designed to stimulate action, with each screening followed by a discussion about the issues raised by the film. Green Building The Learning Center promotes green buildings and works closely with the South Carolina chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. Community Outreach The Learning Center hosts community organizations active on sustainability issues and creates opportunities to be a gateway for student engagement with environmental stewardship.

Students meet in one of West “Green” Quad’s classrooms.


Community Building All of our programs are designed to foster a sense of community among those on campus and in the population concerned about sustainability.

FUEL CELL West “Green” Quad’s fuel cell gets its hydrogen from natural gas. The main by-product of fuel cells is water, making fuel cell power extremely clean and efficient.

LIGHT WELLS To improve indoor environment quality, light wells on the roof increase natural daylight and fresh air in the Learning Center for Sustainable Futures.

PEDESTRIAN WALKWAY The pedestrian walkway in by the building utilizes a permeable paver system to allow drainage and reduce water runoff. It also serves as a fire lane to allow easy access to buildings.

TURF ROOF In addition to absorbing heat, turf roofs reduce the amount of rainwater runoff, thus lessening the amount of water sent into stormwater systems.

STUDENT ELECTRICITY USEAGE West “Green” Quad has a touchscreen monitor for students to check the electricity usage of their apartment and compare it to their neighbors. The system also allows students to check this “real-time” data on the Internet. This feedback encourages conservation.

Green Quad Executive Brochure  

This is a 6-page informational brochure about the Green Quad at the University of South Carolina.

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