Tufts University To Open First "Green" Dorm

When Tufts University Trustee Bernard Gordon lived in Tufts’ West Hall in 1944 during his officer training for the Navy, he bunked four to a room. This September 3rd, when students at the Medford, MA university move into the new Sophia Gordon Hall, named in honor of Bernard Gordon’s wife, they will live four to a suite in a “green” dorm with single bedrooms, fully-equipped kitchens and bathrooms, and a host of environmentally-friendly features such as hot water heated by solar panels on the roof.

A $10 million gift from technology pioneer Gordon made the construction of Sophia Gordon Hall possible. The new 126-bed dormitory will house fourth-year students and is Tufts’ first “green” building.

“Once again, Bernie Gordon has answered the call in helping us to strengthen Tufts University,” said University President Lawrence S. Bacow. “How fitting that our most technologically advanced dormitory and our most beautiful dormitory should be linked to Bernie and Sophia. We are enormously grateful to Bernie for his continuing generosity.”

Sophia Gordon Hall is expected to use 30% less energy and 30% less water than would a conventionally designed building. The bathrooms include motion sensors that will turn lights off when not in use and a dual-flush toilet.

The residence hall is divided into two wings that together have 31 suites, each including single rooms, a living room, kitchen and bathroom. Four suites have six bedrooms and 26 suites have four bedrooms. In addition, there is a two-bedroom suite for the residence director. The residence hall also includes a multi-purpose room that can seat 150 people and will be used for academic and residential life

Rooftop solar thermal and photovoltaic arrays, funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative with matching funds from Tufts, will help heat water and will generate supplemental power for the building. Most corner windows include louvered glass that will reflect heat away from the walls in the summer months and reflect heat indoors during the winter. Suite living rooms include many windows, as does the multi-purpose room, to reduce the need for artificial lighting during the day.

The majority of the building’s flooring is made from recycled material or renewable resources, including the hallway and suite carpeting, the rubber flooring in stairwells and the bamboo wood floor in the multi-purpose room. In addition, the steel used to build the residence hall is more than 85% recycled.

Built To LEED
Sophia Gordon Hall was designed and built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System. The building is expected to receive a LEED silver certification.

“The LEED process brings everyone together, from the building owner to the designer to the builder,” said Randy Wilmot, project associate with William Rawn Associates, the building’s Boston-based architect, “and it encourages creativity and innovation from all parties.” The 62,000-square-foot residence hall was built by Linbeck of Lexington, MA.

Tufts hopes the new residence hall will be much more than a place for students to live. “A large display wall next to the entrance will provide visitors and residents with information about the building, including real-time data about energy use and avoided pollution,” said Sarah Hammond Creighton, program director at the Tufts Climate Initiative. “We hope that students–and anyone else visiting Sophia Gordon Hall–will learn not only about the energy-saving components in the building, but also other ways to conserve energy and recycle.”

Tufts is committed to meeting or exceeding the Kyoto Protocol for reducing emissions that contribute to climate change and is a member of the Chicago Climate Exchange. In 2005, Tufts and the Tufts Climate Initiative won the EPA Climate Protection Award.

The University will host a dedication ceremony for the new residence hall on September 6.

(Photo Credits: Joanie Tobin for Tufts University)