Shippensburg University Student Housing Project Profile

Presidents Hall

Presidents Hall pays homage to various architectural features found across campus at Shippensburg University
Photo Courtesy of Fortune Johnson, Inc.


Shippensburg University Student Services, Inc. (SUSSI) is an independent non-profit organization that serves as the voice for the student community regarding policies that govern the general welfare of students.  SUSSI hired Campus Apartments (CA) to assemble the design and construction team which consisted CUBE 3 Studio (Architect), Greenman Pedersen, Inc. (MEPFP, Structural and Civil Engineers) and Fortune Johnson Inc. (General Contractor).  The purpose of the project is to replace several on-campus student housing buildings in multiple phases.  Phase 1 consists of Buildings 1-3 (306,436 SF) and Phase 2 consists of Buildings 4-6 (284,128 SF).  A third phase is under consideration.  It was determined early in the project by Campus Apartments that LEED Certification and Sustainability would be a focus for the project.   The buildings themselves are comprised of a series of suite and semi-suite units with a bathroom shared by every 2 students.  There are main common lounges, study lounges and laundry rooms on every floor.  At the main entry level, there are a series of larger assembly areas for student interaction and for the academic portion of the University to co-utilize.


1.  ENERGY EFFICIENCY – The buildings have provided the students with flexibility of comfort within their suites through the use of a North America’s Largest VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) System with each suite having its own terminal unit to control temperature.  This approach allows one suite to utilize cooling while the next is heating, to meet the individual needs of the students.  VRF reduces energy usage by nearly 25% over a conventional unit by unit HVAC system.  All of the buildings are tied to a campus wide building management system which allows the University to setback all of the HVAC systems when the units are unoccupied and save nearly 20% energy on an annual basis.  Given the entire buildings envelope and HVAC system, the buildings will reduce the overall energy usage by 16% annually per the energy model required to be submitted for LEED (actual usage and savings noted below).

2.  WATER USE REDUCTION: Each building was provided with at least one water fountain that had a bottle filling function built in.  This element was used to help encourage the students to reuse water bottles, creating a smaller waste stream.  The fountain keeps a running tally of how many bottles have been saved.  Low flow fixtures were used in every possibly situation throughout the facility giving the total water use reduction of over 40% annually.

3.  REDUCED DEVELOPMENT IMPACT: The siting of the buildings was done in a way to utilize previously developed sites within the core of the campus, while not disturbing the existing residential buildings housing students, and providing the students with meaningful outdoor spaces at the conclusion of each Phase of the project.

Each Dorm Room Allows For Fresh Air, Daylight and Quiet Surroundings resulting in maximum comfort for the students

Each Dorm Room Allows For Fresh Air, Daylight and Quiet Surroundings resulting in maximum comfort for the students
Photo Courtesy of Fortune Johnson, Inc.

4. RESPONSIBLE MATERIAL USEAGE: Where possible local materials were purchased and used on the project giving it over 20% regional material usage.  The major ones included Steel, Masonry (York, Pa), Drywall (Baltimore, MD), Paint (Frederick, MD) and Acoustical Ceiling Products (Lancaster, PA). Also over 10% materials contained recycled content.

5. IMPROVED ACOUSTICS – It was a main focus of the project team to provide a high quality studying environment inside their dormitory.  Many studies show that the quieter the environment, the more productive the student and the easier it is to retain the information they are studying.  For that reason each unit was constructed with special insulation and sealants giving an incredibly high STC rating of 55 to the units.

Open Lounges For Students To Convene

Open Lounges For Students To Convene
Photo Courtesy of Fortune Johnson, Inc.

6. IMPROVED INDOOR ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY – The students are given the opportunity to control their own environment within each dormitory unit.  The HVAC, lighting and windows all enable the student to provide themselves with optimal comfort.  The buildings receive maximum ventilation (100% outside air HVAC systems).  Studies also show that productivity and alertness go up with the level of fresh air inside a building.  All low or no VOC products were used

7. STUDENT ENGAGEMENT – The design and construction team has engaged with the Shippensburg University Student body to educate them about the benefits of green building.  The students have been very excited to learn about the reduced impact on the environment their new campus will have once the entire new student housing is occupied.

Fooseball, Pool Tables, Flat Screens - Great amenities for any college student

Fooseball, Pool Tables, Flat Screens – Great amenities for any college student
Photo Courtesy of Fortune Johnson, Inc.

8. DAYLIGHTING AND VIEWS – Each dormitory unit includes a large operable window for the student to achieve the maximum amount of daylight and views of the outside.  They also have the opportunity to open these windows to give added ventilation to their space.

9. COMMUNITY CONNECTIVITY – Numerous bus routes are located on campus which allow for the occupants to take advantage of public transportation.  Also, naturally being on a campus, there are many amenities within walking distance for the students such as dining services, shipping and receiving, recreational areas and classrooms.

All the comforts of home right inside the new student housing facilities

All the comforts of home right inside the new student housing facilities
Photo Courtesy of Fortune Johnson, Inc.

10. RESILIENCY – Given the nature of the occupants and the usage of the facility, the design team worked closely with the maintenance team from the university to specify and use resilient materials.   Materials that were easy to replace or repair were also used such as Acoustical Ceilings and Carpet Tiles.

11. WASTE DIVERSION – 98% of the demolished buildings were salvaged through an extensive scrapping, crushing and stockpiling operation.  Nearly 12,000 cubic yards of concrete was salvaged for the future use of the University on a roadway project.  Anywhere from 75% to 98% of construction waste was salvaged during the construction project (varied by building).  Each building also has dedicated areas for the students to recycle all of their waste materials.

12.GREEN POWER – The development team offset the energy usage for the Phase 1 buildings by purchasing 70% green power (Renewable Energy Credits) for two years.  The offset is 4,117,914 kWh which is equivalent to the following:

The removal of


passenger vehicles from the road for a year



tree seedlings and growing them for ten years



acres from being deforested for a year

Avoiding the carbon emissions from consuming


gallons of gasoline

Avoiding the carbon emissions from consuming


barrels of foreign oil

Avoiding the carbon emissions from burning


railcars worth of coal


Post-design and pre-construction (during the demolition and compaction grouting process) Fortune Johnson facilitated extensive collaboration using BIM software.  Use of BIM and collaborative meetings amongst the construction team allowed the team to raise potential field conflicts early in the project and identify them through the RFI and Submittal process.  This streamlined the pre-construction process and eliminated conflicts later in the project.  Pinpointing these conflicts and eliminating them early in the project reduced delays, errors in the field which would need to be corrected, extra material and waste, etc.


McLean Hall II
Photo Courtesy of Fortune Johnson, Inc.

The design and construction teams work closely throughout the project to come up with solutions, on the fly, that meet the various goals of the project (schedule, budget, quality, maintenance and LEED considerations).  Also given the Phased approach and maintaining the design and construction teams, there have been many lessons learned and improved efficiencies amongst the teams moving into the second phase.  This makes for a better finished product, a more efficient schedule and improved cost savings.


Our team found a variety of different challenges, especially in the construction process.  The project consisted of major demolition, and demolishing old buildings have challenges from both a safety and sustainability standpoint.  The older buildings contained hazardous materials which were remediated appropriately and then the large structures could be demolished.  To salvage as much of the old buildings as possible was a significant challenge.  Being on a college campus, the amount of area to perform these activities were limited and there was large scale crushing and sorting operations going on around the clock to maintain the schedule.  Nearly 98% of the demolition debris was salvaged.  Metal (rebar and steel) was stripped from the old buildings and the concrete and masonry was crushed for stockpiling and reuse by the construction team on future projects.

Given the type of construction, multi family, there were varying levels of experience from subcontractors pertaining to LEED projects.  Some had zero experience and some had extensive experience.  This can always pose a significant challenge when preparing and documenting all that is required for the LEED certification.  The construction team held various training courses for the bidders and subcontractors both on the documentation and material management on-site.  This went a long way toward educating the subs who were less familiar with the LEED process.


Seavers Hall
Photo Courtesy of Fortune Johnson, Inc.

Wood frame construction poses a unique indoor air quality challenge in that it can be susceptible to mold when exposed to the elements for extended periods of time.  The general contractor did enlist an environmental consultant who treated the buildings to prevent such issue but it was a constant battle until the buildings were completely dried in.  Buildings were tested for air quality prior to enclosing them to ensure the highest indoor air quality.

The soil composition in the Shippensburg region is considered “karst”.  In addition to having to blast massive amounts of rock, these karst soils can become unstable underneath of the large buildings.  Soil depressions were encountered during construction which caused delays to the project but also compaction grouting fields were constructed underneath each of the buildings to support them and ensure that settlement did not occur given the soil composition.


Phase 1 was completed on-time and within budget with students occupying the building in December of 2012.  Phase 2 began in January of 2013 and is slated for occupancy in August of 2014.  Each building was fully occupied after they opened and upon completion of Phase 2, the project will house 2,688 students during the school year and various visitors throughout the summer.  In the first year of occupancy (2013) the University projected that they saved 7,500,000 gallons of water and 1,500,000 kWhr of energy usage.  These are truly high performing green buildings.  While the energy modeling was only able to capture/project 16% savings from baseline/code energy usage, what we have seen from real usage of the buildings incorporated with the universities set back of the buildings, the savings are much greater as seen below.  The buildings are saving between 37% and 51% compared to what is required by code.

Energy Consumption Summary Based on First Year of Occupancy (2013)

Energy Savings By Building (Percentage) Energy Savings – Actual usage vs. baseline code (As Buildings Are Being Operated) Actual Energy Usage Measured by SU Projected Energy Usage in LEED Energy Model (16% better than code) Projected Energy Usage Required By Code

















The projects will become the first LEED Certified (Certification of Phase 1 anticipated Q1 of 2014) on campus. The engagement with both the Staff & Students has shown Shippensburg University that Green Buildings can be aesthetically pleasing, resilient, healthy for the occupants and energy efficient.  They also can be really fun spaces for the students to live in.  All of these aspects engage the occupants on a higher level.  The hope is that the students, occupants and staff understand how buildings can in fact improve the environment and improve our life.  Ultimately this is the goal for green building and we feel that these student housing projects speak to what is possible in terms of sustainability in the built environment.

Shippensburg University

Shippensburg University
Photo Courtesy of Fortune Johnson, Inc.


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