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Buildings on This Campus Benefit from Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Produce More Energy Than They Use

Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus, located near Pittsburgh, was designed to incorporate the latest in environmentally responsible technology, design, innovation and products, and has just been named one of the top ten building projects of 2017 by the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment. Equipped with high-performance mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, passive energy collection and on-site renewable energy generation, buildings in the $50 million project are designed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, and to produce more energy than they consume.

After receiving the donation of the 388-acre Eden Hall Farm, the university conceived a goal of creating the world’s first net-positive campus. The buildings, landscapes and infrastructure have been developed as an active research environment including building technology, renewable energy systems, sustainable agriculture and food systems, aquaculture, water treatment and nutrient recovery, watershed protection, soils, wildlife and habitat, etc. Design integration is demonstrated, tested and measured in the linked site and building infrastructures.


Water Initiatives

While Eden Hall Campus sits at the headwaters of the Ohio and Mississippi River watersheds, pine plantations, agriculture and invasive plants have contributed to soil erosion and sedimentation of creeks, and municipal sewer overflows contaminate water quality. The project takes an integrated approach to water resources, management of nutrients and mitigation of impervious surface. A constructed wetland wastewater treatment system provides superior wastewater treatment onsite with effluent used for toilet flushing and infiltration.

Rainwater is collected from rooftops for irrigation and 24 onsite rain gardens manage surface storm water. Use of potable water is reduced through onsite water treatment and reuse of effluent from all buildings except the Orchard Dorms (which is connected to the municipal sanitary sewer until a future phase), but the toilet flushing demand is provided by reclaimed water from the campus system.

The university says 39% of water consumed onsite is from rainwater capture; water consumed onsite from greywater/blackwater capture and treatment is 16%.


Environmentally Friendly Materials

The Eden Hall Campus used a “consistent palette of local low impact materials” with qualities like durability, low maintenance and low environmental impact over the life cycle, according to the university. Most natural materials were locally sourced.

For example, the design team worked with PPG to select new cost-effective double glazed products that out-perform triple glazed options, and used a rainscreen cladding by TAKTL, a local business that developed a low embodied energy method for manufacturing these durable exterior panels.

The team also chose solar control low-emissivity (low-e) glass from Vitro Architectural Glass. With visible light transmittance (VLT) of 64% and a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.27 at center-of-glass in a standard 1-inch insulating glass unit, Vitro says the Solarban 70XL glass is one of the industry’s highest performing solar control, low-e glasses. The glass was chosen due to its ability to transmit high levels of natural daylight while diminishing solar heat gain.


Getting It Done

Vendors mentioned above: PPG and Vitro Architectural Glass.

Partners in the project design team:

  • Mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems: Interface Engineering
  • Constructed wetlands and water system design: Biohabitats
  • Civil engineer: Civil and Environmental Consultants (CEC)
  • Structural engineer: KPFF Engineers
  • Onsite project management: Rothschild Doyno Collaborative
  • General contractor: Sota Construction
  • Commissioning agent: CJL Engineering
  • Lighting designer: WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • AV/Acoustics: Shen Milson & Wilke
  • Accessibility: Studio Pacifica
  • Envelope: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
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One thought on “Buildings on This Campus Benefit from Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Produce More Energy Than They Use

  1. This is what every American campus should strive for in living solely protecting mother earth, ensuring sustainable practices, net-zero carbon , environmentally friendly materials, and so much more . This is the dream made into reality. Bravo!

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