2008 Progress Report: The Green Dorm: A Sustainable Residence and Living Laboratory for Stanford University

EPA Grant Number: SU833201
Title: The Green Dorm: A Sustainable Residence and Living Laboratory for Stanford University
Investigators: Fischer, Martin , Masters, Gil
Institution: Stanford University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: II
Project Period: September 1, 2006 through August 31, 2009
Project Period Covered by this Report: September 1, 2007 through August 31,2008
Project Amount: $75,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2006) Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The Lotus Living Laboratory at Stanford University is exploring sustainable building technologies and sustainable living habits through the design, construction and operation of The Green Dorm, an innovative facility containing residential, laboratory and commons space. Both the design process and resulting physical spaces will model innovative systems that engage project participants and make apparent the connections between building users and resource cycles. The project will create networks of information and resources, both the structure and content of which will be a tool for other sustainable development projects both locally and globally.
Central to the Green Dorm is an accurate building systems metering network that will feed a central database, rendering our “living laboratory” an ideal testing facility for innovative building system designs. Project participants will document building system function to better understand the relationships between building and users, and to develop performance-based code compliance. We hope our thorough documentation will influence future codes, thus extending the influence of our project and propagating ideas and pathways for enhancing sustainability in the built environment.
Phase II P3 funding will allow purchase of prototyping materials, building system components, metering equipment, and a computers and screens for further developing the Green Dorm Info Center and web-enabled data collection and storage. The development and sharing of sustainable pathways will continue through coursework, student internships and directed research. Stanford will also host a focused Living Labs conference in mid 2007.

Progress Summary:

Group Organization
In September 2008, Green Dorm Project successfully raised $12MM to fund the design and construction of the student residence and sustainable laboratory. This funding delay has impacted P3 research, however student researchers have been organized via Civil and Environmental Engineering course CEE124/224a: Sustainable Development Studio to pursue project related research. Beginning in Fall 2008, twenty-four graduate and undergraduate students from multidisciplinary backgrounds are making preparations for the design phase scheduled to begin Q1 2009. This research entails faculty, staff and student stakeholder interviews as well as continued research on topics including student shower use and its water and energy impact, building-integrated local/organic biointensive agriculture and point source electricity consumption metering at the outlet level.
Four samples of student research findings are included in the paragraphs below:
Solar Thermal Modeling Study:
The results of solar thermal modeling make several things evident. Most importantly, this experiment suggests that an Integrated Collector and Storage (ICS) system should be undersized to maximize efficiency. Thus, the ICS system would work best in conjunction with other sources of solar thermal, heat recovery, cogeneration processes, or conventional water heating. The suggested combination of an ICS water heating system with an active solar thermal is, as far as we are aware, a new idea arising from this study.
Effect of Dust on Photovoltaic Cell Performance:
Though many sources have reported as much as a 10% degradation caused by dust, this can almost certainly be avoided by regular rain. The cleaning process should therefore be a supplement to rain and clean the glass in a similar way. Since it doesn’t rain much in the summer at Stanford this is the most important to keep a regular cleaning routine. This should prevent any serious build of dust on the array, keeping performance degradation under 3%.
Shower Drain Heat Exchanger:
For most dorms, shower hot water heating is the single largest energy load. A heat exchanger concept would use water going down the drain to preheat the cold water going into the shower. Research examined the feasibility of the shower drain heat exchanger.
For 10°F temperature increase:
– Need UA product of 206 Btu/hr °F
– So for U = 100Btu/hr ft2 °F, need almost 2 ft2 of surface area.
– Annual energy savings: 9 million Btu for the entire dorm
– Each device would save about $15/yr
What about a low furnace setting or low-flow shower heads?
·         Lowering furnace temp from 140°F to 120°F reduces heat exchanger performance by about 10%.
·         Switching from 2.4gpm to 2.1gpm reduces heat exchanger performance by about 2%.
Blackwater Energy Recovery and Treatment:
The Green Dorm proposes to treat its own blackwater using an Anaerobic Membrane BioReactor (MBR). This study that in addition to the dorm's blackwater, foodwaste could supplement the experiment. Florence Moore Dining is situated directly uphill of the proposed Green Dorm site. The operation produces a significant stream of waste BOD each week. This BOD stream must already be transported off-site, and being more concentrated than blackwater, it is an ideal digester feedstock.
The present use of the food waste (composting) can be continued using excess digester sludge, which retains the nutrients useful as fertilizer.
A collaboration with wireless sensor network hardware manufacturer Arch Rock Inc. is underway. Equipment with the capability to wirelessly sense building system variables such as temperature, light level, humidity and even power consumption is in development.
The Green Dorm is entering into the design phase Q1 2009 and conclusions will be submitted Aug 2009.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 2 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

green design, adaptability, ecological planning, permaculture, biophyllic, building performance, components, high-performance materials, water filtration, fuel cells, photovoltaic, membrane bio-reactors, sensors, feedback, post occupancy evaluation, passive solar, orientation, thermal mass, lifecycle, ecological footprint, organic, locally sourced materials, design process, treatment/control, Sustainable Industry/Business, Scientific Discipline, RFA, pollution prevention, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Sustainable Environment, Technology, Energy, Environmental Engineering, energy conservation, environmental sustainability, environmental conscious construction, clean technologies, green design, green building design, sustainable development, architectural design, architecture, performance based code compliance, conservation, RFA, Scientific Discipline, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Engineering, energy conservation, sustainable development, clean technologies, green design, performance based code compliance, environmental conscious construction, environmental sustainability, green building design, conservation, alternative energy source, architecture

Relevant Websites:

Stanford University Green Dorm Website: CEE124/224a Sustainable Development Studio.
Inter-campus initiative dedicated to facilitating the transition toward a socially, economically, and environmentally responsible world through the open dissemination of all available knowledge on the subject, and the provision of support for movements large, small, and those yet to be created, working to ensure a better future for us all.

Phase 1 Abstract

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2007
  • Final Report

  • P3 Phase I:

    The Green Dorm: A Sustainable Residence and Living Laboratory for Stanford University  | Final Report