Penfield Residence Hall

The first LEED-certified college residence hall in the state, part of the Rhode Island College campus

About this Property


We were invited to tour this building with a group of architects from the AIR RI chapter. It was notable because this was the first LEED-certified college residence hall in the state and the first new residence hall for Rhode Island College in nearly 15 years.

The Robinson Green Beretta corp. (RGB) was hired by Rhode Island College (RIC) in January of 2004 to design a new residence Hall to house 367 new beds on the existing RIC campus. The 127,500 sf Residence Hall completed in August of 2007 was the largest structure on campus at the time. The new residence hall provided single and double bedroom occupancy apartments and suite style units with up to four students each. The facility also houses student recreation space, study space and a new student life office suite.

Upon obtaining LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification in May of 2008, the new residence hall became the largest LEED-certified building and first LEED-certified residence hall to successfully complete the certification process in the state of Rhode Island.

Principle sustainable design features include an air/vapor barrier to seal the building from drafts while making it more energy efficient. A high efficiency HVAC system provides a combined cost saving of over $115,000/year (27% better energy performance than code). The building was strategically placed based on the LEED reduced site disturbance requirement of 40’ maximum clearance setback in order to maintain as much natural vegetation as possible. Over 56% of the trash from this project was recycled, totaling over 750 tons. A white Energy Star roof reduces cooling loads on the building, saving energy, while reducing the heat island effect created by black surfaces in urban environments. Over 27% of materials were supplied from within 500 miles of the project, thus reducing fuel used for transportation. 100% fresh air is delivered to each unit through a highly efficient heat recovery distribution system. All windows are also operable for added ventilation. Exposed colored concrete floors were used for improved maintainability without harsh chemicals. Finally, all indoor finishes were low volatile organic compounds (VOC) to ensure improved indoor air quality.

Design Reception

Design-wise, the building is nice and shiny and new but once the college students get to it we wonder how it will age. The concrete block should be able to take a pretty good beating, we hope. Operable windows are a good idea but again, college kids — we wonder how they will hold up. We’re not particularly fans of the work of RGB, in general, and this building, because of its near industrial-strength nature required for a student population, is not a favorite. We do love and appreciate all the extra work that went into the LEED Silver status.