Some students at Loyola are noticing that the sliding doors on the north side of the Damen Student Center appear to be broken. Sometimes they won’t open all the way or they aren’t as responsive during the winter.
But, the seemingly “broken” automatic doors in the Damen Student Center are actually one of the many ways Loyola conserves energy use and saves money.
Loyola student Sam Swank, 20, said she notices the partially opened doors most when large groups of people are passing through them.
“It’s a little bit annoying when there’s a lot of people trying to come in and out,” the sophomore molecular biology major said. “I hate when I’m trying to get to class and there’s like six people in my way.”
Bryan Goodwin, associate director of the student complex — which includes Damen — said he usually hears about half a dozen complaints each year from people about the sliding doors’ apparent malfunctioning.
Goodwin said there’s a reason behind the door’s operation. They are an example of a passive design strategy.
“Those sometimes seem broken, but they’re actually supposed to only open a certain way, especially when the weather gets a little bit chillier like this,” Goodwin said. “Having those doors open only 40 percent of the way allows us to keep a lot of the cold air out so that it helps reduce our energy costs in terms of heating.”
Passive techniques reduce a building’s energy consumption without expending any extra energy.
The sliding doors aren’t the only sustainable elements in Damen.
Goodwin said high efficiency fixtures in the restrooms and dining hall reduce water usage in Damen by about 30 percent and its green roof absorbs rain and provides insulation as well. The skylight above the food court brings in light naturally, and a trench underneath the building lets cool air rise to save on air conditioning in the summer, according to Goodwin.
Damen isn’t the only building on campus that’s designed to be energy efficient. There are 10 buildings on campus that are LEED Certified, meaning they meet energy efficiency standards, according to Durnbaugh.
One of the first buildings on campus built with sustainability in mind was the Klarchek Information Commons, commonly known as the IC.
The IC uses a variety of sensors that allow it to take advantage of its natural surroundings to bring in light and air, according to Devon Patterson, a design principal at Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) — the company that designed the building. Air ventilates through the glass facades to keep the building at a comfortable temperature, according to Patterson.
This natural ventilation is part of the IC’s passive techniques, according to Loyola’s Director of Sustainability Aaron Durnbaugh. Air passes through the IC’s windows without any electrical ventilation, according to Durnbaugh.
Cuneo Hall on the Lake Shore Campus also uses passive energy reduction, according to Durnbaugh. Air comes in through the ground level of Cuneo and flows through the atrium of the building where students walk through to get to classes, Durnbaugh said.
The Schreiber Center at Loyola’s Water Tower Campus is designed to ventilate air the same way as Cuneo, according to Durnbaugh.
Patterson said the buildings were designed to use less energy than expected by the Chicago Energy Code. Cuneo and the Schreiber Center were designed to use 60 percent less energy, and the IC was designed to use 50 percent less energy, according to Patterson.
Henning was not able to say how much energy or money the buildings using passive strategies save at the time of publication. Henning said calculations take time because numbers are being measured against a conventional version of the building that was never built. Durnbaugh said estimates on money and energy costs are hard to determine for the same reason.
SCB is behind more than 10 projects on Loyola’s campuses. Associate Vice President of Facilities Kana Henning said the company has partnered with Loyola for more than 20 years.
Loyola senior Bryan Thacker said he notices Damen’s sliding doors being an issue, but he said it doesn’t bother him too much.
“I can be inconvenienced a slight bit out of my morning … if it’s going to save money and energy and the planet,” the 21-year-old marketing and information systems double major said.
Swank said she didn’t know how buildings on campus reduced their energy consumption, and said it was something students should know about at Loyola.
“Everyone knows Loyola has a focus on being green with bio-soap and all of those things, but it’s important to know it’s in the buildings … it’s part of campus, so I think it would be good for students to know [about],” Swank said.
Loyola junior Meredith Hawley said she thinks students should recognize the energy efficient details because it would help them understand Loyola’s values.
“It plays into your educational experience and understanding what your education at Loyola means by understanding what Loyola stands for and how they practice what they preach,” the 20-year-old psychology major said.
Durnbaugh said the university continues to look for ways to increase the energy efficiency of buildings on campus.