Boston College (BC) is a private Jesuit Research University founded in 1868 and located 6 miles outside Boston in Newton, MA. Ranked 30th among American Universities by US News & World Report BC has 9,100 full-time undergraduates and nearly 5,000 graduate students.
BC competes in NCAA Division I sports as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference and is considered one of the great Universities in the United States.
FORGING SUSTAINABILITY AT BOSTON COLLEGE
DCI started working with the team at Boston College approximately 25 years ago. We have furnished many of their residence halls through a long and rich partnership.
This decades-long partnership was the backdrop for a new BC project that emerged in 2013. Boston College was tearing down an older dorm and building a beautiful new 245,000 square-foot residence hall on Commonwealth Ave.
At the same time, BC had just purchased a commercial apartment bloc at 2000 Commonwealth Ave to retrofit and turn into student housing. This retrofitted facility required 500 sets of furniture with all the same specs as the cutting edge 2150 project.
In line with BC’s growing commitment to creating a sustainable campus, the project was designed with a focus on environmental conservation and sustainability. This commitment to sustainability was reflected at every stage of the project. Here’s how it played out. To begin with, the original expanded application to the Boston Redevelopment Authority in 2013 contains several sustainability targets and commitments, including LEED Silver certification. Here are some of those goals and targets:
- Waste Reduction and Recycling: At least 50% of non-construction and demolition waste will be recycled and the University will implement a permanent recycling plan appropriate to the needs of the facility. At least 75% of construction and demolition materials will be recycled.
- Procurement: In the selection of building materials, consideration will be given to the use of recycled content, regional materials, and rapidly renewable materials. The University will incorporate the residence hall into its well-established recycling program.
- LEED Certification: The University will meet LEED Certified status and strive to achieve LEED Silver Certification for any new construction project.
- Greenhouse Gases: The University has had a 20% drop in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from stationary carbon sources since 2006. Boston College will continue to reduce GHG emissions.
- Water Efficiency: Boston College plans to reduce water consumption through water- conserving fixtures and water efficient landscaping; landscape materials will be selected that enhance sustainability and conservation of resources by virtue of suitability to site conditions. The interdisciplinary design team will endeavor to incorporate building systems to reduce water consumption by approximately 35%, using technologies such as dual-flush toilets and reduced-flow sinks and lavatories in the residential units.
- Sustainable Sites: Boston College has chosen to develop a sustainable site well-served by public transportation and other alternatives to single occupancy vehicle commuting. No increase in parking capacity is being provided. In fact, there will be a reduction of 66 parking spaces at the site. The University also plans to take steps to reduce light pollution from inside the building.
LEADERSHIP, SUSTAINABILITY, AND PARTNERSHIP
Leading up to this project, DCI had a long- standing relationship with BC’s Residence Life and Facilities Teams. Given the high profile nature of this project and the huge amount of furniture involved–490 sets totalling more than 2000 individual pieces–BC wanted to make sure that DCI was still the best company to supply the furniture.
In essence, everyone wanted to make sure that our furniture was still competitively priced.
Furthermore, because this new residence hall had special environmental credentials, they wanted to re-evaluate our long-running partnership to ensure we were the greenest furniture manufacturer.
So we invited BC’s Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, Director of Residential Life, Director of Procurement, and Assistant Director, Facilities to our manufacturing plant in Lisbon, NH and our rough mill in South Royalton, VT to see DCI’s unique chain of custody manufacturing process in action.
This was important because, unlike any other company supplying furniture in our market, we own every stage of the process, from the selection, cutting, and rough milling of local hardwood trees, to the manufacturing, finishing, delivery and installation of FSC C-O-C certified furniture.
Chain of custody allows us to manage quality and sustainability at every stage and to keep every aspect of the project local. This convinced the team at BC that DCI has the most sustainable furniture production process.
There was one last hurdle. Pricing.
Finally, we reviewed our entire customer history with them in order to match our historical pricing. Then we provided BC with further discounts through a special pre-payment pricing plan. As a result, we were able to give them highly competitive prices. And in the end, this engaged partnership and in-depth planning allowed us to produce and deliver their furniture ahead of schedule.
MANAGING COMPLEXITY & BRIDGING THE DESIGN GAP
In terms of size, scope, quality, and sustainability credentials, this is one of the most impressive buildings we’ve had the privilege to work on.
There were also a lot of stakeholders working at different levels. For example, we worked with teams in the following departments: Capital, Procurement, Residence Life, Facilities, and Project Management.
We needed buy-in from all of them and at the same time, looked to us to take the lead on the project. Needless to say, it was a complex project which required a high degree of customization and flexibility.
We worked in a collaborative process with these stakeholders and our product evolved a lot as a result. For example, we went back to them after they made furniture selections and made counter suggestions. We even built samples so they could see why it didn’t work.
In addition to getting buy-in from everyone involved, we needed our furniture to match what their designer had picked from other sources. There was a design gap, and we had to bridge it.
So our challenge was to complement other features and furniture and to do so affordably. How did we do that?
First, we went through over a dozen stains and custom laminate selections in order to find the perfect match. It had to be affordable and either compliment or match everything in place.
Because they had already chosen their doors, wooden railings, lounge furniture feet, it came down to the stains. We were able to shoot it right down the middle and create a design that integrated and blended everything through our stains and finish.