With Hickory Hall E&H Sets a ‘High Bar’ in Campus Building Energy Design

Posted on: Thursday, March 21st, 2013 by Brent Treash

Emory & Henry College cut the ribbon Thursday on a new, 119-bed residence hall that was described as “truly remarkable” in its design and innovation.

With the cutting of the ribbon, Emory & Henry celebrated the nation’s first large-scale residence hall to be built with passive energy design. “This is a world-class building,” said Steven Strauss, representing Structures Design/Build out of Roanoke, which served as consulting architect for the project. “It is truly remarkable in the United States to have this kind of building built.”

Strauss praised Emory & Henry as a leader in higher education in setting an example for energy conservation. “Emory & Henry is at the tip of the spear in helping the United States meet a major challenge in energy conservation.”

The ribbon was cut on the building on Founders Day, which celebrates the anniversary of the College’s founding in 1836. E&H President Rosalind Reichard commended the institution for its ability to blend tradition with innovation in a way that serves students and communities.

Reichard, who has announced her plans to retire June, is known at Emory & Henry as the “Building President.” She has presided over more than $50 million in new or planned construction and renovation, all of which has met some level of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Efficiency in Design) from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Reichard has placed a strong emphasis on environmental protection during her seven years as president. She was the first president in Southwest Virginia to sign the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, which challenges the College to become carbon neutral by 2036, the College’s 200th anniversary.

“With this building, we are setting the bar high for others,” Reichard said. “That’s what we try to do at Emory & Henry,” she said.

The new facility, which cost an estimated $7.5 million, represents the College’s most significant initiative in energy efficient construction. The new building, which was constructed with the aim of obtaining LEED Silver certification, incorporates passive house designs, which reduce the amount of outside air coming into the building and thus reducing heating and cooling costs.

Passive house technology has been used for years in Europe, but mostly in homes. Hickory Hall would be the first large-scale residence hall in the nation to be built to such high standards for energy efficiency.

Emory & Henry’s student government president, Yancey Wilmoth, said the building represents much of what the College values, including innovative thinking and sustainability. “This is the physical manifestation of the goals of Emory & Henry.”


  • Will be the largest Passive House Residence Hall in the country (by a factor of 20)
  • Will also be the largest Passive House building of any type in the country (at least for the next year or so; a larger project is slated to start construction late this spring).
  • Incorporates innovative geothermal heating and cooling system that also provides domestic hot water.
  • Provides a constant supply of fresh, outside air through 90% efficient energy recovery ventilators
  • Triple-pane windows, R-30 walls and R-50 roof
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures and high-efficiency lighting with occupancy sensors
  • Low-VOC building materials and recycled content furniture
  • Modeled to use 74% less energy than code and 50% less than Elm Hall, which is already our most efficient building on campus
  • Will save us an average of $15,000/year (compared to Elm) over the first decade and nearly $700,000 over 30 years. Compared to a code-compliant building it will save more than $1.5 million over 30 years.
  • It will also save us 86 tons of CO2 annually compared to a Elm Hall, the equivalency of the amount of carbon sequestered by 64 acres of forest or the consumption of 181 barrels of oil

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