‘I know I’m making a difference here.’ University of St. Thomas builds a residence hall where sustainability is key – KSTP

‘I know I’m making a difference here.’ University of St. Thomas builds a residence hall where sustainability is key – KSTP

The St. Paul campus says it has reduced its carbon footprint by 37% in the last decade. 

And Tommie East, just completed last August, appears to be leading the way with its eco-friendly design.  

“It’s super-exciting,” says Kaylen DeBois, a freshman who lives there. “I’ve always cared about the environment, I’ve always tried to be as sustainable as possible.” 

The $34-million residence hall is home to 260 students. 

The look and the feel of Tommie East emphasizes a healthier environment and low impact on Mother Nature.  

“Go through all those checkboxes of what it meant to construct a hall that was eco-friendly,” says Aaron Macke, the University’s Associate Dean of Students. “We’re not going to just say it’s a statement, we’re not going to say it’s a value, but we’re actually going to build it, we’re going to create it, and we’re going to have you live in it, and experience it, so you can experience it yourself.”

The differences between Tommie East and conventional student house are numerous, even startling, including,

  • low-flow showers and bathroom faucets to conserve water
  • large, triple-paned windows to allow in more light while conserving heat  
  • electric car recharging ports
  • indoor secure bicycle storage
  • a rainwater collection system for on-campus irrigation

“The rainwater goes into these large bathtubs underneath the grass, and collects in the bathtubs,” Engh explains. “Rainwater does not have to go back into a public storm sewer and go somewhere else. It stays on the site.”  

The carpets are made from recycled materials.

Recycling bins are everywhere. 

But there’s something that takes
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