Enotah Hall combines efficient operations with a comfortable, state-of-the-art home for Young Harris College students.
Philip L. Sampson Enotah Hall combines efficient operations with a comfortable, state-of-the-art home for Young Harris College students.

A small private college in the mountains of northern Georgia has received LEED-Silver certification for its new residence hall featuring a geothermal system, passive solar design, and energy-efficient products. Young Harris College’s $16 million, three-story Enotah Hall opened in August 2009 to house 200 students.

“If you look at where LEED projects are registered, they tend to be located in urban areas,” said Jackson Kane, a project manager with Lord, Aeck & Sargent, the project’s architect. “One of the ways this project serves the community at large is by demonstrating sustainable design in the north Georgia mountains.”

One of the project’s top priorities was to reduce the institution’s carbon footprint, which led to an upgrade of a geothermal mechanical system and the addition of an energy-recovery unit.

The 62,500-square-foot building was constructed with regional and recycled materials, FSC-certified wood, and low-VOC paints and sealants, Kane says. The building also employs generous daylighting and sustainable site strategies. For example, the residential wings are oriented so that windows are within 15 degrees of due south or due north, maximizing daylighting while minimizing late afternoon glare.

Deep roof overhangs help shade the upper terrace, and the two-story porch provides coverage at the building’s west-facing curtainwall openings. Rainchains direct water from the terrace into the planters at the base of the porch’s masonry columns.

“From the very beginning, we wanted this new residence hall to complement our environment,” Young Harris College president Cathy Cox said. “We wanted large expanses of windows to take in our beautiful views, and we wanted it to set a standard for being ‘environmentally friendly.’ We have all that and more in this fabulous facility.”