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Mother Agatha O’Brien Hall receives ASHRAE award for green innovations

Residence hall earns Excellence in Engineering award

Chicago (Dec. 21, 2008) The Illinois Chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Inc. presented Saint Xavier University and Environmental Design Systems with a 2008 Excellence in Engineering Award for the design of Saint Xavier’s newest student residence facility, Mother Agatha O’Brien Hall. The annual awards recognize achievements in the design of new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and retrofits.

Dedicated in October 2008, O’Brien Hall is Saint Xavier’s second residence hall using the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design “green building” approach. The hall was built to LEED Gold designation standards, which requires a number of sustainable strategies protecting the Earth’s natural resources be incorporated in its construction. In 2007, Saint Xavier’s Arthur Rubloff Hall received an Illinois Chapter ASHRAE award as well as the coveted LEED Gold designation in 2007, becoming the first university building in the state of Illinois to receive the LEED Gold distinction. 

“Saint Xavier University’s second Illinois ASHRAE Excellence in Engineering Award is a testament to the University’s commitment to sustainability,” said Paul Matthews, assistant vice president of facilities management at Saint Xavier. “We will continue our efforts to achieve climate neutrality, which include green building practices, our new GreenBike sharing program and our Greenhouse Gas Audit for the Presidents Climate Commitment.”

The Illinois Chapter awards have recognized outstanding engineering performance for more than 30 years, beginning during the country’s first energy crisis in the early 1970s.
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 Hall. The construction management firm is Henry Bros. Co. Terra Civil Engineering conducted civil engineering. Environmental Systems Design, Inc. provided a mechanical engineering design.

The energy-efficient 36,664 square-foot residence hall is the sixth co-ed residence hall on the Chicago campus. It was designed to use both natural and mechanical ventilation, with a 50-foot high circular glass stair tower drawing tempered air to assist in summer night pre-cooling and winter heating. 

The building uses 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, the rain garden filters roof water runoff and the indoor air quality in the student rooms is significantly above ASHRAE standards. 

O’Brien Hall will now be submitted for a regional ASHRAE award.


Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1846, Saint Xavier University was the first Mercy college in the United States and is Chicago’s oldest Catholic university. Serving approximately 5,700 students at its campuses in Chicago, Orland Park and its Loop location, the University offers 35 undergraduate majors; more than 40 graduate program options in arts and sciences, business, education and nursing; and a variety of program options in continuing and professional studies. Recognizing Saint Xavier’s excellence in education, U.S. News and World Report has ranked SXU consistently among the Best Colleges in the Midwest.

Contact: Joe Moore
773-298-3937 or jmoore@sxu.edu