The EcoDorm at Warren Wilson College

This image shows the building's exterior at dusk.


  • Location: Swannanoa, NC
  • Building type(s): Multi-unit residential
  • New construction
  • 9,000 ft2 (836 m2)
  • Project scope: 2-story building
  • Rural setting
  • Completed August 2003
  • Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED-EB, v.2.0 --Level: Platinum (64 Points)
    Rating: HERS --Level: 93.8
    Rating: EPA Energy Star

The EcoDorm at Warren Wilson College houses 36 students who are interested in environmental responsibility and want to live with like-minded students. The co-ed dormitory is one of a series of four dorms surrounding a common lawn.

Warren Wilson College is an independent, accredited, four-year liberal arts college in rural North Carolina. The school's mission statement includes a dedication to environmental responsibility, and environmental literacy plays a significant role in the curriculum.

Environmental Aspects

The EcoDorm was designed to reflect the values of the college and to encourage a community of like-minded students to minimize their environmental impact.

Water conservation efforts include low-flow showerheads and faucets, waterless urinals, and composting toilets. A 10,000-gallon rainwater cistern collects roof runoff for watering the landscape and flushing toilets. Graywater is plumbed separately for future on-site treatment.

The building incorporates passive heating and cooling strategies as well as solar hot water panels and photovoltaic panels that double as shading devices. Structural insulated panels were used for all exterior walls and roofs, providing an airtight, well-insulated building envelope. A heat-recovery ventilator saves energy in the mechanical system.

Local, salvaged, and recycled materials are used throughout the building. All siding and trim was harvested from campus trees or deconstructed from campus buildings. Finishes with low chemical emissions were used throughout the building.

A monitoring system tracks and displays information about climate, water use, energy consumption, and electricity production, improving the student's awareness of how the building is performing and how their living habits affect its performance.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by Warren Wilson College, Corporation, nonprofit
  • Typically occupied by 36 people, 168 hours per person per week

Building Programs

Indoor Spaces:

Living quarters (40%), Circulation (18%), Other (13%), Public assembly (10%), Restrooms (9%), Dining (5%), Mechanical systems (4%), Lobby/reception (1%)

Outdoor Spaces:

Restored landscape (45%), Wildlife habitat (45%), Garden—productive (33%), Pedestrian/non-motorized vehicle path (13%), Patio/hardscape (3%), Garden—decorative (3%), Shade structures/outdoor rooms (2%), Parking (1%)


Integrated team, Design charrette, Green framework, Simulation, Green specifications, Performance measurement and verification, Open space preservation, Wildlife habitat, Indigenous vegetation, Stormwater management, Water harvesting, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Drought-tolerant landscaping, Graywater, Massing and orientation, Insulation levels, Glazing, Airtightness, Passive solar, HVAC, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, On-site renewable electricity, Durability, Benign materials, Salvaged materials, Recycled materials, Local materials, C&D waste management, Occupant recycling, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Natural ventilation, Ventilation effectiveness, Moisture control, Thermal comfort, Noise control, Low-emitting materials, Indoor air quality monitoring

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Last updated: 6/30/2009

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