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SXU installs rooftop garden on new green residence hall for energy conservation

Plants to cut energy costs, manage storm water

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(Photo) Workers install a “green roof” energy conservation garden atop Saint Xavier University’s new residence hall.

Chicago (July 17, 2008) Saint Xavier University recently installed a “green roof” energy conservation garden atop its new residence hall. Opening this fall, the cutting edge student living facility is the latest University effort to become climate neutral.

Hundreds of Sedum plants cover 826 square-feet, or 10 percent, of the residence hall’s roof. The Sedum plants will insulate the roof to reduce energy costs, help manage storm water, absorb carbon dioxide, extend the lifetime of the roof and improve overall aesthetics.

SXU Lead Groundskeeper Scott Russo said the plants require no maintenance.

“They’re very hardy, almost like a desert plant,” he said.

Saint Xavier is building the residence hall to LEED Gold Environmental Standards as set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council. SXU’s Arthur Rubloff Hall, which last year became the first university building in the state to receive the coveted LEED Gold designation, also has green roof garden.

The new 36,664 square-foot residence hall has been designed to use both natural and mechanical ventilation and a 50-foot high circular glass stair tower will draw tempered air to assist in summer night pre-cooling and winter heating. This concept improves building energy efficiency and occupant comfort.

The building will use 100 percent “Green-e” Power from mixed renewable energy products to carbon offset all electrical energy consumed in the residence. The roof features a solar reflection system and the rain garden filters roof water runoff. 

The indoor air quality in the student rooms will be significantly above American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Inc. (ASHRAE) standards. All student rooms will have windows that can be opened to promote natural ventilation air patterns, harvest natural daylight and allow beautiful views of the Saint Xavier campus, providing all students with a closer connection to nature.

The architectural firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz and Associates provided designs for the building. The firm designed three previous residence halls for Saint Xavier, including Rubloff. The construction management firm is Henry Bros. Co. Civil engineering was conducted by Terra Civil Engineering. Environmental Systems Design, Inc. provide a mechanical engineering design. 

Last spring, ASHRAE presented Saint Xavier University and Environmental Systems Design, Inc. with Chapter and Regional Engineering Technology Awards for Rubloff Hall. The awards recognized achievements in the design of new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. 

A leader in green practices, Saint Xavier is a member of the Illinois Sustainable University Compact, which has pledged to accomplish multiple environmentally sound goals by Dec. 31, 2010. These goals include energy purchases from renewable sources, reduced carbon emissions, and requiring green building practices for all new construction. More recently, SXU became the first Chicago university to sign the Presidents Climate Commitment, joining 557 other schools nationwide in a pledge to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.


Contact: Rick Ducat
773-298-3325 or ducat@sxu.edu