TerraHaus Eco-Friendly Dorms at Unity College
Unity College’s TerraHaus is the first college dorm build to passive house standards. Solar thermal collectors will provide most of its hot water

Just in time for classes, Unity College opened up the doors to TerraHaus, a boldly innovative, low-energy college dorm that aims to demonstrate the height of high performance building on college campuses.

The building, designed and built by by G*O Logic’s architect Matthew O’Malia and carpenter Alan Gibson, is the nation’s first dorm to meet passive house certification standards. Like their prior net zero G*O Logic home, G*O Logic chose ReVision Energy to design and install the solar energy systems. The TerraHaus sports 120 evacuated tube solar hot water collectors, which should meet nearly all of the building’s hot water needs (showers, washing, etc.).

Here’s what Doug Fox, Director, Center for Sustainability and Global Change, Unity College, said about the choice of renewable energy:

In an era of global change and uncertainty about future oil costs, thinking about resilience in our home and work systems is prudent. The cost of heating water with solar is independent of the price of fossil fuels, hence adding resiliency to our residential systems while also mitigating climate change. Leaving aside the alternate investment calculations that a financial advisor might want me to make, it gives me comfort to think that in my home I have, in a sense, pre-paid for 250 gallons or so of heating oil per year for the next 20 years or more at $1.40/gallon.

More of Doug’s comments and photos of the story of TerraHaus’ construction at: TerraHaus blog.

The Morning Sentinel also featured the building:

The standards, the highest international standards for energy efficiency, require that the dorm use 90 percent less energy for space heating than standard buildings.

On Thursday, Gibson and O’Malia, as well as landscape architect Ann Kearsley of Portland, gave the Unity staff tours of the eco-friendly, stylish tan-shingled cottage.

TerraHaus, which cost about $475,000 and took about three months to build, is nearly airtight, has a heat recovery ventilation system, is exceptionally well insulated and has superior quality windows.

Those high-quality features, said Gibson, will allow TerraHaus to be heated this winter with an electric baseboard heater at a cost of about $30 per person.

Gibson and O’Malia also designed the GO Home on Crocker Road in Belfast, the first passive house-certified home in Maine and the 12th passive house in the country.

According to Doug Fox, director of the Center for Sustainability and Global Change at Unity, TerraHaus is the first of three planned residence halls on the Quaker Hill campus that will comprise the SonnenHaus village of energy-conscious dorms.

Read more: http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/gree-terrahausready-for-students_2011-08-25.html

It was a true honor for ReVision Energy to work on this project in collaboration with Unity College. A number of our staff members are Unity graduates, and the College has shown truly exceptional dedication to their environmental mission and serves as a model for other campuses nationwide.