River Forest, IL
Dominican University is continually looking for ways to make the college campus more energy-efficient and sustainable. In 2007, for example, when planning the construction of Parmer Hall, a new academic building, Dominican sought ways to avoid overtaxing the local municipal water supply and to increase water conservation overall on campus.
Green Upgrade Details
Under Dominican’s Magnus Arts Center is a huge 1920’s-era, 60,000-gallon concrete cistern that lay dormant for 50 years. This cistern, reactivated and expanded in 2009, now collects rainwater that flows down from the roofs of university buildings, in addition to collecting groundwater. The water is reused on site instead of pumping it into the sewer. Some is recirculated into the air conditioning system of recently built, LEED-certified Parmer Hall, and the rest is sprinkled on campus lawns. Dominican estimates a savings of up to 6 million gallons of water per year due to this imaginative reuse of an old technology. The university also prevents rainwater from escaping off site by means of permeable paving in its parking lots and a bioswale constructed next to Parmer Hall.
Other sustainable steps taken by the university include the recent introduction of central air conditioning in Lewis Hall, built in 1931. Cooling coils were added to the original ventilation system, allowing for the removal of old, unsightly, and inefficient window air conditioners.
Campus engineers are now turning their attention to the renovation of Coughlin Hall dormitory, built in 1962. The aging toilets, faucets, and shower fixtures have been replaced with low-flow models, and new hallway lights dim every night at 10:00 p.m. to conserve energy. Next, Dominican plans to convert the dorm’s heating system source from steam to more energy-efficient hot water. The upgrade will provide both heating and cooling, and may even open the door for a future geothermal system.