Commodore Builders completes First Passive House Residence Hall in New England

Commodore Builders completes First Passive House Residence Hall in New England

Commodore Builders completed construction on Pine Hall, the first large-scale Passive House college residence hall in New England. Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts opened the 178-bed student residence hall for the 2019 fall semester.

The new Pine Hall is expected to use 70% less energy than it would if built in a traditional manner. It was also designed to utilize solar panels (not yet installed) to produce 75% of its own power in the future. 

Colleges and universities are always seeking innovative, new facilities and distinct campus attributes to attract students. Today’s college students want their campuses to be environmentally friendly and utilize sustainable practices. That’s why institutions like Wheaton College are focused on carefully reducing their carbon footprint in constructing and operating new buildings.

An added benefit of a Passive House structure is the consistency of the temperature throughout the entire space. In the case of a Passive House constructed dormitory, this can mean fewer maintenance calls and therefore a reduction in maintenance costs.

Passive House, a building standard that takes direct aim at improving energy efficiency, used for decades in single-family home construction, is now being used in new residence halls. The goal of Passive House is to build structures that are designed with the intent of creating a continuous, airtight, adiabatic envelope to increase energy efficiency and decrease the environmental footprint.

The Passive House construction process itself necessitates close collaboration. The entire design and construction team on the project, including SGA architects, Commodore Builders, Thorton Tomasetti Passive House consultants, Advanced Building Analytics, all of the subcontractors, and the Wheaton College facilities management team needed to be in lock-step throughout the planning and construction process to successfully pioneer this use of Passive House on campus.