A Green “Gold” Standard

EMU’s newest dorm Cedarwood is the first dorm in Virginia to receive “gold” certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), one of the highest environmental standards for construction. It’s one of just 33 dorms nationwide to achieve gold.

With U.S. buildings responsible for 39 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, 40 percent of energy consumption and 13 percent of water consumption in our country, Cedarwood is helping to reverse those statistics.

Cedarwood in action

“Mennonites have always felt we should be stewards of God’s creation, so I think it’s a positive way for EMU to show its appreciation for the Earth.”

Philip Martin,
Cedarwood resident and environmental sustainability, music performance major

Cedarwood uses extensive natural lighting; flooring made of recycled and natural materials; a bioretention filtration system to manage rainwater runoff; a bike shed with a “green” landscaped roof; and native landscaping around the building itself. Nearby are edible landscaping patches, harvested at different times for use in the campus dining hall.

Environmentally friendly bathroom facilities use different amounts of water for different types of waste. Pull the lever up for liquid, down for solid. Cool, say students who live there.

Made of natural or recycled materials, Cedarwood was even constructed with portions of the old residence hall Oakwood, which stood on the same ground and was demolished just weeks before Cedarwood construction began.

Products, adhesives and finishes used in Cedarwood contain no harmful chemicals, according to Eldon Kurtz, director of EMU’s physical plant. “The low-flow water fixtures include shower heads and front-load washing machines,” said Kurtz. “The building was designed to filter storm water from the roof and parking lots to improve quality and reduce the quantity that contributes to stream bank erosion.”

Green roof designed by students

In addition, a green roof on the bike shed is composed of a thick soil base that supports small plants called sedums.

“The concept of a green roof is pretty neat," said Andrew Derstine, a 2011 business administration graduate. “When I own a house, I want to put one on my garage.”

Derstine, along with the help of Kishbaugh, installed the roof on the shed after a green design course. Green roofs aid with water run-off, insulation and increase the overall life of the roof, according to Derstine.

Community, fellowship and stewardship

Cedarwood is also geared toward community and fellowship. Large lounge areas on each floor make it great for watching movies, hanging out with friends, discussion groups, and Bible studies.

Big, well-lit kitchen spaces make for fun times preparing meals and just spending time together. EMU chemistry professor Tara Kishbaugh leads a break-baking workshop in the second-floor kitchen during Food & Farming Week each fall.

Cedarwood emphasizes stewardship of God’s creation, a core value of EMU and a long-held focus of Mennonites and Anabaptists.

In 2010, EMU installed the largest solar deployment in Virginia, with 328 photovoltaic panels on its library roof. Other EMU efforts on behalf of the environment include:

  • tray-free dining hall (saves water and food)
  • use of a bicycle-pulled trailer to collect recylables
  • biofiltration beds to protect a stream that feeds the Chesapeake Bay
  • composting of dining hall waste
  • campus landscaping with edible vegetation.

Learn more about Cedarwood and sustainability on campus