How a residence hall caters to international students

A net-zero building designed to accommodate international students from developing countries

The 17,000 square-foot residence hall is the first net-zero building on Williams College’s campus with 10 geothermal wells and a roof that supports 300 solar cells.

Challenge: The liberal arts institution needed housing for its Center for Development Economics program that offers one-year master’s degrees to 30 mid-career professionals from developing countries. Many of the students come from conservative cultures that separate genders and have difficulty with cold, dark New England winters.

Solution: The two-story building features two vertically offset wings that contain a total of 14 pairs of single bedrooms, with one wing for each gender. Each pair of bedrooms has a shared bath and both floors have a single accessible bedroom.

To reduce energy consumption for heating and cooling, the building has 10 geothermal wells and VRF heat pumps, along with valance units for heating and AC in each room. The residence hall makes up for the dark months with oversized, triple-glazed windows, helping to maintain warmth even at night. Every room features LED lighting with occupancy sensors.

Completion date: December 2018

Total cost: $11 million

Project team: Designer: PBDW Architects, general contractor: Cummings General Contractor; structural engineer, Gilsanz Murray Steficek; MEP engineer: Kohler Ronan Engineers; sustainability consultant: Atelier Ten; lighting designer: Melanie Freundlich Lighting Design; landscape architect: Towers Golde Landscape Architects; civil engineer: Guntlow & Associates; code consultant, Sullivan Code Group; acoustical engineer: Longman Lindsey; exterior envelope: Heitman & Associates, elevator consultant: Iros Elevator; cost estimator: Fennessy Consulting Services; specifications writer: Construction Specifications

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