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Environmental Features

James L. and Evelena S. Oakes Hall


Environmental Features

Composting Toilets Save Precious Water

  • Composting toilets and urinals, which do not require water, are on Oakes Hall's first and second floors.
  • The waste goes into catchment tanks in the basement, where the composting process goes on year-round.
  • Aerobic bacteria and earthworms convert the waste into potential fertilizer.
  • The toilets are cleaned nightly and maintenance on the catchment tanks occurs regularly, including adding sawdust and yeast-based bacteria to eliminate odors and promote composting.
  • Fixtures will be removed from other campus structures (made possible due to the new building's increased capacity), allowing VLS to reduce its overall water demand.
  • The reduced water demand is a substantial benefit to the Town of Royalton's small, municipal water system.
  • The building is the first public, year-round building in Vermont to use composting toilets.

The High Quality "Building Envelope" Has Multiple Benefits

  • The envelope surrounding the building includes a continuous layer of high quality insulation, "super windows," and airtight construction.
  • The envelope keeps interior surfaces of the building warm, preventing condensation, which can lead to mold and/or deterioration.
  • The envelope decreases heating and cooling costs.
  • The envelope eliminates the need for perimeter heating, decreasing capital cost.

Heating and Cooling are Independent of Ventilation, Producing Substantial Savings

  • In contrast with most buildings, Oakes Hall does not send ventilated air to unoccupied rooms.
  • Occupied rooms receive 100% fresh, outdoor air, which is heated or cooled within the room; unoccupied spaces heat or cool air already present within the room.
  • Ventilating only rooms that are occupied is Oakes Hall's principal energy-saving strategy.

"Super Windows" Reduce Heat Loss

  • Super windows insulate almost twice as well as typical new windows, dramatically reducing heat loss.
  • Super windows cost no more than standard, high quality new windows.
Enthalpic Energy Recovery Wheel Controls Humidity, Recycles Exhaust Heat
  • The seven-foot diameter wheel, located within the ventilation air ductwork, is coated with a substance which absorbs and re-releases moisture.
  • By transferring heat and water vapor the wheel will keep the building from becoming too dry in the winter or too humid in the summer.
  • The wheel recovers 80% of the heat in exhaust air, transferring it to the incoming, fresh air.

Economical Lighting Systems Minimize Energy Consumption

  • Photoelectric lighting controls turn off corridor lighting when sufficient natural light is present.
  • Lights are turned off automatically once users leave a classroom.
  • Lighting fixtures include high-efficiency, low mercury, fluorescent lighting and compact fluorescents.
  • Exit signs are lit by very efficient, long lasting, light emitting diodes.
  • Outdoor site lighting includes high pressure sodium lighting, the most efficient electric lighting for larger, open areas.

Fiber-Cement Siding Replaces Less Durable Wooden Clapboards

  • The siding is very rugged and much more resistant to moisture-driven expansion and contraction.
  • The siding has the look of traditional, wooden clapboards.
  • The interval between repainting is at least doubled.

Traditional Linoleum Uses Natural Materials; Outlasts Synthetic Flooring

  • Linoleum is used as the finish flooring in most of Oakes Hall's two upper levels.
  • Traditional linoleum is made from linseed oil, wood flour, and cork, which are heat-cured to produce a resilient flooring material highly resistant to staining and wear.
  • Linoleum will far outwear sheet vinyl flooring, its synthetic competition.

The Building Minimizes Exposure to Unhealthful Substances

  • Products of combustion from heating equipment have been eliminated. The building is so efficient that it is heated by oil-fired boilers installed in adjacent Whitcomb House. The new building did not require any heating equipment, chimneys, or fuel storage tanks.
  • Moisture-induced, biological factors such as molds and dust mites have been prevented by design.
  • Construction materials were carefully chosen to minimize harmful fumes, including water-based paints and finishes, non-formaldehyde particleboard for cabinetry and casework, and natural linoleum instead of vinyl flooring.

Occupants Receive Generous Amounts of Natural Daylight and Fresh Air

  • The amount of fresh air supplied to each classroom is selected by users when they enter and is continuously verified by a central control system.
  • Unlike most buildings, no air exhausted from an occupied classroom is re-circulated back into the supply air; all air supplied is fresh, outdoor air.

The Building Provides a Comfortable Environment

  • Each classroom is an individual heating/cooling zone.
  • Operable windows connect occupants with the natural world outdoors.
  • The building is fully accessible for all users.