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Student Mural Raises Energy Awareness by Design

Aug 15, 2022   |   by Betsy Vereckey

The Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society is on track for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, but many visitors are unaware of its efficiency features. "This mural draws attention to the extraordinary energy performance of the building while celebrating student creativity," reads the curators' statement by Avery Hormaechea '24, Kiera Bernet '23, Sanne Schouten '23, and Annie Qiu '24.

Artists Cammy Lee '22, Alessa Lewis '22, Harrison Munden '23, and Sam Miller '24 pose under the mural. (Photo by Avery Hormaechea '24)

Avery Hormaechea '24 works on the mural in the Irving Institute atrium. (Photo courtesy of Avery Hormaechea)

The mural was made possible through the Design Initiative at Dartmouth (DIAD) that connects student teams with campus clients to solve design challenges with creative solutions. 

"We started ideating for how we could make the energy efficiency of the building more visible to the everyday people who go through that space," said Hormaechea. "We liked the idea of something being visual and eye-catching to get people to pause."

Recently completed in Dartmouth's West End District, the building is expected to consume less than 20 mmbtu/sq foot, putting it in the top tier of building energy performance.

In addition to triple-glazed windows and rooftop solar panels, energy efficiency features include:

  • Abundant natural light to minimize electricity use
  • A glass facade that stimulates air movement for ventilation without fans
  • Automated window shades and other features to regulate temperature and air flow
  • Water-based heating and cooling with 1,000-times greater capacity to heat and cool than air-based systems.

The team sent out a request for artistic proposals, conducted a design workshop with seven artists, and worked with Jack Wilson, a lecturer in both studio art and engineering sciences as well as a DIAD steering committee member, "who knows a lot about designing spaces," Hormaechea said. The team also talked to a lot of students throughout the process to get their feedback on the design. "They were probably our biggest resource," she said.

One of the mural's designers, engineering sciences major Harrison Munden '23, had never worked on a mural before but had an interest in sustainable buildings. "The mural really brightened up the space, and it was fun watching people's interest get peaked when passing by it," said Munden.

Munden was joined by artists Alessa Lewis '22, Camille Lee '22, Ekene Duruaku '22, Leah Ryu '22, Michelle Chen '22 and Sam Miller '24. It was important to the student artist team to depict the building as a "living, breathing thing" with many people working behind the scenes to help it function.

Hormaechea said the mural was installed around week nine of Spring term, which meant the space was busy with students and professors preparing for finals. Wanting the process to be collaborative, they invited anyone passing by to help them paint.

"We wanted everyone in the building to work on it," Hormaechea said. "We had a lot of people stop by who were excited about it."

While the mural isn't permanent, the hope is that going forward, there will be different murals that tell different stories. "This is the first of hopefully many," Hormaechea said.

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