Berea College's Ecovillage

101 Chestnut Street
Berea, Kentucky

  • Architect: Van Der Ryn Architects
  • Developer: Berea College
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Commons Building
Credit: Van Der Ryn Architects

Advanced energy and resource-efficient structural design helps define this new model of sustainable design.

Berea College's Ecovillage is an ecologically sustainable residential and learning complex designed for students who struggle to balance their academic, work, and family responsibilities. Its family-friendly features include a teaching and research child-care facility with a capacity for a hundred children.

The village also includes a commons house with shared amenities for the residents, office space, meeting rooms, and a kitchen. Also included are a resource house that serves as a home for six students and an education center for sustainable living.

Sustainable building features include the efficient use of structural insulated panels (SIPs), which are made by sandwiching a foam core between two layers of plywood or oriented strand board. Structurally, the stress-skin panels replace the roof and wall sheathing as well as the joists and studs, reducing the need for dimension lumber. SIPs have exceptional insulation properties, making them more energy-efficient than conventional wall assemblies. Other sustainable features include the use of high-fly-ash concrete, recycled siding, sustainably harvested lumber, passive solar heating and lighting, and the ability to capture and use reclaimed water.

As a pioneering project, the Ecovillage underscored the importance of collaboration, research, and development. And the knowledge we gained about how to design for the structural behavior of SIPs has informed our subsequent designs.





Executed as Tipping Mar