Eco-village: Sustainable site for living, research

  • Eco villageThe proposed project would transform the College's cottage-style residences known as the Lodges and the Daily Grind by using cutting-edge technology and the latest sustainability strategies.

    Eco village
  • Energy efficientThe eco-village features an outdoor solar plaza comprising 183 solar panels to generate and supply electricity to the site. Energy consumption would be cut by 75 percent.

    Energy efficient
  • Eco cottageReplacement cottages will feature energy-efficient appliances, windows and doors.

    Eco cottage

William & Mary’s iconic cottage-style residencies known as the Lodges soon may be converted into a sustainable “eco-village.”

Members of William & Mary’s Committee on Buildings & Grounds discussed the findings of the eco-village feasibility study during the recent Board of Visitors meeting. The study examined the concept of the eco-village and outlined the construction of seven new lodges and the Daily Grind Coffee shop. Total cost of the project, which would rely solely on private funds, is estimated at $5.6 million.

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“This project brings together the academic, student life and facilities management sides of the campus to create a better living space and develop an engaging academic program for faculty and students,” Anna B. Martin, vice president for administration, told Board members.

The Lodges, built in 1947, have provided some of the most popular living spaces on campus. The proposed eco-village would transform the site by using cutting-edge technology and the latest sustainability strategies.

Replacement cottages will feature energy-efficient appliances, windows and doors. Low-flow showerheads, bathroom faucets and rain barrels would conserve water usage. Reconstruction would also allow for reorientation of the Lodges to optimize the sun’s energy.

The new design adds two additional students in each lodge, increasing the College’s housing occupancy, Martin said.

Board member Michael Tang, who funded the study, said it was imperative for the College to also consider the financial sustainability of green energy projects versus the cost of traditional construction.  

According to Marin, the feasibility study concluded it was more cost effective to build new rather than renovate. 

During the meeting, Martin presented architectural renderings of the eco-village. The village features an outdoor solar plaza comprising 183 solar panels to generate and supply electricity to the site, said Martin. A rain garden is proposed to surround the perimeter of the village to help decrease pollutants caused by stormwater runoff. A green roof on the coffee house rounds out the landscaping changes, Martin said.

Faculty, staff and students from across campus have spent almost three years working on the developmental concept. Dennis Taylor, professor emeritus at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Law Professor Lynda Butler, co-chairs of the campus-wide Committee on Sustainability, are two out of almost a dozen faculty members involved with the project.

Taylor said the new construction would have a minimal impact on the ecosystem, conserve water usage and improve energy efficiency.

“The woodlands would be restored with native vegetation and water conservation would be integrated through the entire site,” said Taylor. He displayed a bar graph on his iPad comparing the calculated energy usage between the existing lodges versus the future eco-village. Energy consumption would be cut by 75 percent.

Martin said plans call for the eco-village to be constructed in phases. One lodge would be built first and serve as swing space. It is estimated that one or two lodges could be built each summer, as funding permits.

Sarah Stafford, professor of economics and public policy, told the Board that one lodge could be preserved and used for a research project. Refurbishing the lodge to compare sustainability gains in new verses renovated construction is one idea created by the Eco Village Research and Teacher User Group, she said. The working group, comprised of faculty and staff, is creating a list of sample research projects, such as analysis of stormwater runoff and solar panel effectiveness.

“The eco-village will be a living and learning space, and teaching and research lab,” she said.