Whitman College is located in a residential neighborhood in Walla Walla. Around two thirds of students live on campus - in residence halls, interest houses, fraternities, or other College-owned houses. The College strives to maintain all of its buildings to ensure they are efficient, up to date, and attractive.
In the past decade, Whitman has aimed to follow the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council and to have all projects built to the LEED Silver standard. While there are many examples of buildings that meet efficiency standards, no buildings on campus are LEED-certified due to the cost of certification. The college has deemed that these funds are better used in improving other sustainability measures.
The campus features many unique building designs that help increase the college’s sustainability.
Hall of Science
The expansion of the Hall of Science in 2002 brought with it many remarkable design features, such as the beautiful center staircase in the atrium, with woodwork made of the local trees that had to be felled for the expansion. The original building, constructed in 1963 and expanded in 1981, received a $13 million redesign that included state of the art facilities and an award-winning heating and cooling system. During the design process, a professor suggested using a heat pump system that capitalized on the geothermal heat from a deep well under the building. The 1,200 foot deep well brought up 75 degree Fahrenheit water used to regulate the building’s temperature. The warm water also moved to heat Memorial Building and then passed through a fountain. The water fed the campus irrigation system before returning to the local creek. Reused water that irrigated the beautiful lawns on campus. The award-winning system saved the College $6,000 a year on heating and irrigation costs. However, due to unforeseen challenges, this geothermal source has been brought offline.
Baker Ferguson Fitness Center
The $10 million construction of the fitness center and swimming pool in 2004 included a heat recovery system that recaptures and recycles the warm water vapor that rises off the swimming pool. After running through an evaporator, the water and latent heat are extracted and used to heat the pool.
Reid Campus Center
This 50,000 sq. foot red brick building constructed in 2002 provides a central hub to campus as well as a model of sustainable design. The large south-facing windows allow sunlight to enter in the winter, naturally warming the building. Programmed vents open and close to outside air to capitalize on natural convection techniques to cool it.
The Environmental Interest House, affectionately known as the Outhouse, was founded in 1981 and helped develop the College’s recycling program a few years later. The members of the Outhouse aid in collecting residence hall recycling on weekends and provide opportunities for all of campus to engage in green activities that range from making applesauce to having “unplugged” coffeehouses. Four 75-watt solar panels live on top of the house, capable of producing 3 kilowatt-hours per day. The panels charge batteries used in the house to run 12 volt lights in each room. Solar thermal energy is also harvested to heat water for the Outhouse. The Outhouse also maintains a small foodwaste composting system.