Randolph Macon to build new "green" dorm

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) – Randolph Macon College is looking to build an environmentally-friendly dorm that runs, in part, on rainwater. But, in order to do so, Hanover has to change county code regarding use of the public water system.

Construction will begin this fall on Randolph-Macon's brand new dormitory. The new dorm is part of a larger master campus plan and will help college leaders deal with other issues.

"We decided that catching rainwater off of the roof of the dorm and putting it into a cistern, and then reusing it in the building, or for irrigation was a good comprehensive way to deal with storm water runoff. The purpose of which is to protect the Chesapeake Bay," said John Ahladas, Randolph Macon College Treasurer.

Before they could finalize plans though, college leaders had to check with the county. With the exception of irrigation and storm water ponds--right now, once a facility signs up to use the county's water supply they have to do so exclusively. There's no room for using alternative sources like rainwater inside a building. The county is supportive of changing code to allow Randolph Macon's rain harvesting plan.

"It's a win-win, conserving our drinking water. High quality treated water and at the same time not burdening the waste water system with the flow of rain water," said Director of Public Utilities Frank Harksen.

Once built, a parallel piping system will allow rainwater to flush the toilets in the new dorm, while county water will still be used for drinking and showering. Once code changes other homes and businesses can follow in Randolph Macon's footsteps. Harksen says while the money from using the public system would be nice short term - conservation is more important long-term.

"The longer what you have will last, the less expense you have in the future, so that's part of the concept and it's good for the environment as well," said Harksen.

The new dorm should be complete around this time next year. The county is hosting a public hearing on this issue next week during the regular board of supervisors meeting. That will take place on Wednesday night, August 25 at 7:00 p.m. in the board room at the county administration building.

So far, county supervisors are unanimously supporting changing the county code to allow the use of rainwater.

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