Site Selection: Case Studies

A case study of a well-planned green building is in Asheville, North Carolina. Warren Wilson College in Asheville built a thirty-six person dormitory they call the “Ecodorm.” The Ecodorm is a prime example of a building that encompasses all the aspects of green building technology and techniques, especially site selection and landscaping . The cost of the project was $1.5 million and was entirely funded through a grant.[i]

Before building the Ecodorm, planners wanted to select a site that met “green” standards. They wanted to find a site that allowed them to position the building in a way to maximize use of the sun’s energy for daylighting and passive solar heat gain in the winter.[ii] The next consideration was how to position the building on a site and how to do it in a way that would not disturb the surrounding wildlife habitat.[iii] Once they found a site that allowed them to accomplish these goals, the building was constructed. The building was built using the latest green technologies available, such as the ones suggested for any project on the CSB/SJU campuses.

After the Ecodorm was built, the site was landscaped in a way to help maintain and augment existing natural ecosystems. Landscape rs developed an erosion control plan for areas around the building that were more susceptible to erosion, especially by storm water runoff. One of the ways of doing this was to limit the amount of impervious surfaces near the building where the highest amounts of runoff and erosion would occur. Areas near the building that are traditionally covered with impervious surfaces, like concrete sidewalks and patios, were instead covered with a surface that would allow the soil to absorb most of the storm water.[iv] Any excess runoff erosion was limited by adding a collection system in which the water is used for irrigation of the permaculture landscaping.[v] Plants native to the building site were planted for their benefits to the ecosystem, as well as their low needs for maintenance and watering.[vi] Similarly, existing trees and vegetation were depended upon for shading during the summer months and providing windbreaks from the winter winds.[vii]

To learn more about Ecodorm at Warren Wilson College, visit

Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, provides another case study of an institution that has implemented the concept of green building into their construction plans. Lawrence University is located in the same climate region as CSB and SJU. For this reason, it is a pertinent example as to how our campuses should choose a green building site .

A 183-bed residence hall on the campus was designed to maximize views of the Fox River and minimize the storm water impact on the river.[viii] Planners wanted to reduce the amount of solids introduced by storm water into the river, so they installed bio-swale, which are storm water retention ponds that are used to remove pollutants and provide for flood control.[ix] They also planted native species of plants with an ample amount of green space.[x]

To locate more information on this project, regarding other topics such as indoor air quality and materials and resources, visit


[i] Warren Wilson College, “Warren Wilson Ecodorm,” (7 April 2004)

[ii] ibid

[iii] Warren Wilson College, “Site Map,” (7 April 2004)

[iv] ibid

[v] Warren Wilson College, “Warren Wilson Ecodorm.”

[vi] Warren Wilson College, “Site Map.”

[vii] ibid

[viii] Wisconsin Green Building Alliance, “Case Studies,” 25 March 2003 (7 April 2004).

[ix] ibid

[x] ibid