In an effort to go green, renovating dorms, not building, is the answer
By Ailee Feber /// Staff Writer
Once best known for its community garden, Juniper Hall has been set apart from its fellow Forest dorms in more ways than one by a recent renovation.
“We basically took the building down all the way down to the studs,” Associate Vice President for Facilities Michel George said. When they built it back up, not all of the changes were structural.
For one, Juniper is exclusively for upper-level students. All the rooms in Juniper are now singles, which come with double beds. The shared bathrooms have been replaced with individual, gender-open bathrooms. Since everyone who lives in Juniper has completed their on-campus living requirement, they all want to be there.
“I tend to view it as an investment in one’s education if you’re able to live on campus,” Jake Bartman (’15), the resident adviser for Juniper, said. “I think it contributes to being immersed in your educational experience to some extent.”
The way Bartman sees it, while the apartments prepare students for moving off campus, Juniper gives its residents the experience of living in a dorm along with the advantages of being upperclassmen. To reflect Juniper’s unique community, he has organized a series of workshops that teach practical life skills, like how to change the oil in your car or fix pipes. So far, residents have responded well.
Belén Giménez (’16) was drawn to the dorm because of the autonomy it offered. “I really like that there’s not this pressure of, ‘Oh, let’s hang out because we have to because we live in the same space,’” she said. “It occurs naturally because we get to have our own privacy and own space. Once you have that, it’s easier to be more motivated to be social.”
Open spaces also encourage socialization. Anyone who remembers the cramped kitchenette that occupied the central floor of Juniper will be pleased with the new one, which lines one wall of the lounge and features energy-efficient appliances. The lounge includes an electronic fireplace, which reduces Lewis & Clark’s carbon footprint.
In fact, green features are present throughout the building. Like in Holmes, each room has a separate control for electronic heating. The new windows feature trickle vents, which allow fresh air inside without the loss of heat that accompanies opening a window.
Juniper’s locks have also been updated. Students now use their ID cards, which have updated to prox-cards, to access the dorm and their rooms. Since the locks are activated by proximity, students can open their door even if their arms are full of books. The system records the time and place whenever a prox-card is used, so if a resident loses their card, they can find out if it was used without their permission.
Will similar changes come to other dorms? If all goes well, George said, the answer is yes. Like the rest of Forest, Juniper was built in the ‘60s and was badly in need of a renovation. It was chosen as a test case for renovation because it is the smallest of the dorms.
“The greenest building you build is one you don’t have to build, one you can modify,” George said.
Those modifications are about practicality as much as sustainability. Forest is known for its inaccessibility, and Juniper is the first hall in the complex to be ADA compliant. Juniper’s new structural system meets the City of Portland’s seismic codes. Energy efficient features, like spray foam insulation and LED lighting, mean the building uses less energy and costs less to maintain.
For Mera Dienes (’15), the green features aren’t a surprise.
“It’s what I really expect at this point from LC,” she said.