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CVCC Student Center

Ultimate Adaptive Re-Use: Recycling a Building

Early in 2008, the leadership of CVCC challenged ADW Architects to find a way to revive an underutilized 1969 furniture and textile facility and convert it into a new Student Center. Rather than demolish the building and send construction debris to a landfill, the team proposed an adaptive re-use strategy. This approach capitalized on the positive qualities of the existing structure, bringing new life and value to the college. This facility is now a dynamic, light-filled, flexible, and more energy efficient Student Center located in the heart of the campus.

CVCC Student CenterAdaptive re-use restoration and implementation demonstrates how an underutilized, dark, inefficient building can be transformed rather than demolished, one of the greenest aspects of the project. Rather than just recycling products, the college recycled a building. 

Saving this facility reduced energy consumption and the overall carbon footprint from what would have been required if a new facility was built of the same size and scope. Windows, walls and systems are all designed to reduce energy consumption and operating costs for the college.

Sustainable Design Features


  • Grey roof membrane on the flat roof to reduce the "heat island" effect and reduce heat gain compared to a black membrane.
  • Permeable brick walkway pavers allow rain to dissipate through joints and into the soil rather than carry excess pollutants into storm drains.
  • Reduced amount of existing concrete sidewalk to reduce the "heat island effect" and pollutants into the storm drains.
  • Full cut-off exterior lights eliminating light pollution.


  • High-efficiency "low flow" plumbing fixtures with motion sensors on the toilets reduce water use by approximately 25% per flush.
  • Urinals save approximately 50% water per flush. 
  • Battery sensors on auto flushers have a full charge with every third flush, greatly increasing the battery life on the sensors.


  • Construction waste management & disposal during demolition reduced the amount of construction waste in landfills; existing building materials were recycled.
  • Recycled materials used:
    • Ceiling Tiles are made with 38% total recycled content
    • Gypsum Board is made with 100% recycled paper
    • Fiberglass insulation is made with 35% total recycled content
    • Rigid Polystyrene Insulation is made with 20% pre-consumer recycled polystyrene
    • Carpet squares used recycled materials
    • All metal and aluminum framing contain recyclable materials
    • Interior architectural wood obtained from forests certified by FSC-accredited certification and contains no urea formaldehyde.


  • Mechanical design utilizes high efficiency HVAC unit motors which use less energy to perform the same amount of work as standard motors. 
  • R-410A chlorofluorocarbon-free (CFC) refrigerants utilized in HVAC; CFC refrigerants contain high amounts of chlorine that contribute to the breakdown of the Earth's natural ozone layer.
  • Carbon dioxide (C02) monitors minimize the volume of outside air needed to be conditioned indoors by only bringing in fresh air when energized. When the space is occupied, the C02 sensor energizes to deliver the full amount of outdoor air needed, and vice versa. When unoccupied, system will require little energy to condition the outside air.
  • Addition of skylights and more windows to reduce the dependency on artificial lighting. 
  • Occupancy sensors on lighting installed in selected spaces to reduce energy usage by approximately 5%. 
  • High efficiency fluorescent lighting used throughout the building.


  • Low-emitting materials in all products specified where appropriate, including adhesives, sealants, paints, and coatings.
  • Added windows and skylights create views to promote a healthier indoor environment.

Phillip Steele, Project Manager - ADW Architects» ADW Architects

Phillip Steele
Project Manager - Associate











2550 US HIGHWAY 70 SE • HICKORY, NC • 28602-8302 • 828.327.7000
Updated 05.11.2016: Content Editor