Butler Goes Green

Phi Delt House Renovation

Renovation of Phi Delta Theta ("Phi Delt") at 705 West Hampton Drive has transformed the 1929 structure into the first LEED-certified fraternity house in Indiana. Phi Delt's house corporation board decided to go green early on, says house corp officer Eric DeWitt '99: "We felt that we had an opportunity to take advantage of the direction the university and the marketplace were heading. The timing was right."

LEED is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2000, LEED offers third-party validation of a project's green features.

Certification requires that a project meet seven prerequisites and earn a certain number of points, explains Lori Anderson, project architect with Peterson Architecture and a LEED-accredited professional. "One thing that worked to our advantage was that [Phi Delt] was an existing building; LEED doesn't want you to tear it down."
"We found early on that the 1929 exterior structure was intact," DeWitt adds. "We were very fortunate." So contractor Meyer Najem demolished everything inside down to the cement floors and out to the exterior walls, which are brick on the inside and Bedford limestone and Carolina granite on the exterior. Maintaining green space by using the existing parking area earned LEED points. Anderson also specified the use of regional materials wherever possible to reduce using natural resources to transport them. So the project also earned points for using drywall from Shoals, Ind., concrete block with recycled content from Martinsville and limestone from Bloomington.

The house is noteworthy for its durability, livability and eco-mindedness. Lights are on sensors. Highly reflective material is used on the roof. A state-of-the art HVAC system both heats and cools with forced air, eliminating the need for a boiler. In addition to a sprinkler system and downstairs kitchen, the house includes a room dedicated to the storage of recyclables. Outside, high-efficiency cars get the premium parking spaces, which include electrical outlets for hybrids. Locked and covered bicycle parking is also provided. What the 48 residents won't get is that "new building smell," due to the HVAC system and use of low- or no-odor materials including glue, paint and carpet.

"The attention to detail was enormous," DeWitt says, and he hopes Butler Phi Delts for several generations will benefit. "This is a 100-year fix. My hope is that these undergraduates recognize what has been done and the time, money and effort that have been invested in it-that they will respect the property and the opportunity they have in front of them."

Phi Delt has been designated substance-free housing. The renovation was completed in time for an August move-in as well as the fraternity's 150th anniversary at Butler; Phi Delta Theta was installed in October 1859 as the first fraternity founded at the university. After closing in 2002, the chapter was reinstalled in April 2009. More than 1,700 Butler alumni have been affiliated with the chapter, but the men who occupy the house from 2009 forward will enjoy the special distinction of living green.