The Dorm Gets a Holistic Upgrade
"I like that we intersect in the kitchen," student Rolando Fulgencio says. "It's a great space. And the main room gets tons of light."
"If you are serious about LEED certification, you can't do it right without thinking about it six months prior to doing anything else," Bastyr facilities director Daniel Clark says.
For most of us, the term "college dorm" recalls a warren of blocky rooms filled with pizza boxes, beer cans, baseboard heaters, and crappy entertainment systems. The Bastyr University Student Village, just north of Seattle, is nothing like that. Which isn't surprising, given that Bastyr is unlike most other colleges.
Bastyr is the nation's largest university specializing in naturopathic medicine and healing, offering degrees in nutrition, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, midwifery, and health psychology. The school stayed true to form when it built 11 noninstitutional living units to LEED Platinum certification.
The real judges—the 132 student residents—moved in last year. How do the students, presumably focused on making friends and pulling all-nighters, feel about living in a "green dorm"?
"Fifty years from now everyone is going to look back and realize what a great thing it was to build the Village," says Rolando Fulgencio, a 28-year-old naturopathic-medicine major. "The green aspects aren't necessarily why I moved on campus, but I like that how we live here has a positive impact."
"I love the kitchen," says Sophia Elie, a 24-year-old nutrition major and president of the campus Carnivore's Club. "The best way to get to know one another is over food." While praising the "personal pantries" in the high-ceilinged kitchen, Elie recalls a very Bastyr moment: "We were making drinks and were out of juice and mineral water. Finally, one girl said sheepishly, 'I have a Diet Coke stashed under my bed.' After a pause, another girl said, 'I have some Diet Cokes stashed under my bed too.' We all laughed and then made some drinks."
So livability gets an A, but the Village's green elements are impressive too: zone-controlled radiant heating, a roof-fed irrigation system, on-demand water heating, covered bike storage, Forest Stewardship Council-certified and locally sourced wood, formaldehyde-free cabinets, and cement board siding (a sustainable alternative to cedar). Earning the coveted LEED Platinum certification took still more attention to detail. "We were able to recycle 97 percent of the on-site construction waste," says Daniel Clark, Bastyr's director of facilities and safety. "We literally would pour out the dumpster and sort it twice and keep notes on everything."
What's your idea of a green living or work space? Tell us at sierraclub.org/sierra/shelter.