Architect Duncan McPherson describes features of the EcoDorm at Warren Wilson College to PMI members. Photo credit: Nora DePalma, O’Reilly/DePalma

The day after viewing PowerPoint presentations on the future of plumbing, members of the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute boarded a bus for a field trip to Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C., to see the future in person. The tour of the college’s EcoDorm concluded PMI’s Spring Meeting, held April 5-8.

The 9,000-square-foot building houses 36 to 38 students during nine months of the year. The students not only live in the dorm, they also use it for their scientific research of sustainable construction, saidPaul E. Braese, P.E. and LEED AP, the college’s director of facilities management and technical services.

The dorm has no air conditioning due to its construction and Asheville’s moderate climate. The building does feature solar hot water panels, radiant floor heating and a high-efficiency boiler. Students conserve water by using a composting toilet and collecting rainwater in a cistern, which is a converted train tanker car. The dorm’s downspouts feed the cistern and the collected water circles back to flush urinals and noncomposting toilets.