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July 1, 2009

SSC building a 'green' dorm

SALEM — The steel beams rising at Salem State College will become a 525-student residence hall next year, one of the final steps in the transformation of a former Sylvania lighting plant.

But this $57.5 million sophomore dormitory on the central campus will be a little different for Salem State.

For one thing, it will be "greener" than any building on campus, and greener than most buildings at other state colleges in Massachusetts.

It will have one roof that really is green, topped with several inches of soil and a ground cover to absorb rain and save energy, and other roofs with white thermoplastic membranes to reflect the heat. The hallways will have carpets made from recycled fibers, which will complement some of the furniture made from recycled plastic and steel.

"The college is trying to go beyond what the state requires" in energy efficiency and the use of recyclables, said Stan Cahill, Salem State's executive vice president.

The building is expected to receive a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver rating when it's done. If the college is able to add solar panels, the rating could go higher. Solar panels will go up this summer on another dorm on the central campus.

"Our goal is to get a ... gold (rated) building," said Scott Plante, an architect for DiMella Shafer, the Boston firm that designed the building.

The dorm will have touch-screen monitors so students can check to see how much energy they are using collectively.

In a way, officials say, the brick building will teach its own course on living responsibly with the environment.

"One reason higher education institutions have latched onto the concept of sustainability is that this is what we are teaching the next generation of leaders," said Edward Adelman, executive director of the Massachusetts State College Building Authority.

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