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Student dorms embrace environmental sensitivity

Location: 2555 Main St., St. Helena 95474

Owner: Culinary Institute of America

Description: LEED-certified dorm

Architect: Valley Architects, St. Helena

General contractor: Healthy Buildings USA, Napa

Mechanical engineer: Guttman & Blaevoet, Santa Rosa

Structural engineer: ZFA Structural Engineers, Santa Rosa

Landscape architect: ZAC Landscape Architects, Petaluma

[caption id="attachment_27985" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="View from the front (click to enlarge)"][/caption]

ST. HELENA -- The 12,000-square-foot Vineyard Lodge dorm expansion at the Culinary Institute of America is LEED Gold certified and fully occupied by 60 new culinary students from all across the country.

It is one of the few LEED-rated dormitories in the country. The Culinary Institute was adamant about building a dormitory that had as little impact on the environment as possible.

"We needed more housing for our students, but we also wanted to create a structure that was as eco-friendly as possible,” said Bob Graham, director of administration and finance at the school. “It is the goal of the CIA at Greystone to 'think green' wherever possible. This is what we teach to our students, and it's a philosophy we incorporate into everything we do at our culinary college."

Increased student enrollment at the nonprofit culinary college combined with the lack of affordable housing in the area created the need for the new building.

Creating an eco-friendly dorm from scratch was an opportunity CIA administrators were very excited about.

"This is a chance to show our students and our community how we can make a positive environmental impact, and how it can be done in an economical way," said Charles Henning, managing director at the school.

[caption id="attachment_27984" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="The west side of the building (click to enlarge)"][/caption]

The building is next to a 40-unit student dorm on Pratt Avenue, a little more than a mile from Greystone.

"Students who are fortunate enough to live in this new housing will be energized by it," said lead contractor Bob Massaro of Healthy Buildings Management Group in Napa. "It is a physical testament to the CIA's ideal of a strong connection to a healthy environment, good food and wine, and good health."

The total energy savings at the Vineyard Lodge is a result of combining both high-tech and low-tech building solutions. Some high-tech systems that contribute to the overall building performance are an 18kw photovoltaic system, which provides 30 percent of the building’s energy; a solar hot water system, which during clear days provides 100 percent of the dormitory’s hot water needs; and a highly efficient and programmable variable refrigerant volume HVAC system.

Other more low-tech, but equally important, elements are passive heating and cooling, building orientation and increased glazing, using a light colored roof and increasing insulation throughout the living areas and attic.

Water conservation is one of the biggest goals of the project with the installation of low-flow sinks, toilets and showers. Water will be recycled through a membrane bio reactor, which will treat used water to a tertiary standard, then be used to irrigate the landscaped yard, wash clothing in the machines provided and for flushing toilets.

[caption id="attachment_27986" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="The north side of the building (click to enlarge)"][/caption]

"The response to our Vineyard Lodge II dormitory has been overwhelmingly positive. Community members and visitors who drive by it are impressed with the look of the building, and the students who live there are very pleased with the function of it as well. It's a very comfortable place for them to live," said Mr. Graham.

The outside of the building has a contemporary farmhouse look, fitting of the style of Napa Valley Wine Country.