Loomis Looks to Increase Dining Hall Energy Efficiency


After building Richmond and Cutler dormitories, Loomis Chaffee is undertaking another, even grander project: the extensive remodeling of the school dining hall. The construction of this new dining hall will begin after the 2016-17 school year ends, and will be finished by the start of the 2018-19 school year. First, the old dining hall building will be expanded out into the area currently occupied by the Amphitheatre. (The dining hall will remain on the Main level, just expanded and renovated.) Second, the third floor of the dining hall, currently used as storage by Aramark, will be remodeled into a vast student center. Last but not least, a basement area will be created to hold the Innovation-Lab, office space, and few classrooms. With the plan currently near completion, this multimillion-dollar project is progressing smoothly.

With newer, more advanced technology now available, how forward-minded is the school’s building committee? In what ways will the funding be used to address energy efficiency? Lance Hall, Assistant Director of the Physical Plant, addresses the energy and resources conservation aspect of the new building.


One way to save energy is by using LED light bulbs. LED lights are up to 80% more efficient than traditional lighting, such as fluorescent and incandescent lights. While 95% of the energy in LEDs is converted into light and only 5% is wasted as heat, fluorescent lights convert 95% of energy to heat and only 5% into light! LED lights also draw far less power than traditional lighting; a typical 84 watt fluorescent can be replaced by a 36 watt LED to give the same level of light. For the new dining hall, 80% of its light source will be provided by LED bulbs. This is because the school is not rebuilding the building entirely; rather, the renovation will take place on the existing structure. There will also be two to three skylights located on the third floor and the glass stairwells that will be built on the east and west sides of the building leading up to the third floor. These will allow a lot of sunlight to come in, reducing the usage of lightbulbs and thus the usage of energy.


Steam heating is the most efficient way of heating this campus. Again, because the dining hall will be built on existing infrastructure, the school will continue to use steam to heat the building. The original dining hall built a century ago has been upgraded over time. Originally just a steam power building, the school installed converters in the 70s and early 80s. Presently, we are using an upgraded version of that system, using drive units to modulate how much the building is being heated. Based on data obtained from the thermostat, the drive units (or Variable Air Volume units), control the pump’s speed and can make it run at full power or at a lower power and still maintain the temperature based on activity within the building and indoor/outdoor temperature. These pumps, located in the basement, helps push hot water through the heating system (such as the radiators), maintaining the inside of the building at a comfortable, warm temperature; especially during the cold winter months. The remodeling and the installment of new drive units will help the building’s heating system be even more efficient than it is now.


The new building will have improved insulation as well. All the windows will be double paned and will come with two panes of glass separated from each other by a space filled with air. That space traps winter’s colder temperatures or summer’s heat in between the two panes and forms a barrier that blocks the heat and cold from affecting the inside of the building. The energy savings over single pane windows can be as much as 24 percent during the winter and 18 percent during the summer. That results in better insulation, less heating, and lower energy costs. Even the door closers on doors will help close doors more quickly to minimize the warm air lost during cold days or vice versa. Moreover, the roof will have tapered insulation under its rubber matting, which will help keep the heat inside and prevent it from escaping out the roof.


Other new installments replacing the old ones are bound to lead to more efficient energy usage as well. The dining hall kitchen will have brand-new walk-in coolers that are upgraded to save energy, since the newer models have different compressors and refrigerants that cool quicker and operate at lower voltages than previous generations. All the bathrooms in the building will use low-flow toilets and faucets. Further, the way the food is heated in the server will be done by energy efficient heat lamps that will replace the regular light bulbs used currently.
While there are major changes that show that the building committee is environmentally conscious, other parts will remain the same. For instance, the way trash, recycling, and composting is done will not change. One key thing to keep in mind is that the new dining hall will be tied into existing infrastructure. With a limitation like that, one can only do so much. However, in terms of constructing a “green” building, there is no doubt that this remodeling will make the existing structure much more energy efficient. Although the Class of 2018 will graduate before the construction is completed, the new dining hall will be a great addition to the school campus.