The university’s newest dorm is likely the only one in the country where freshmen will have the chance to monitor their floor’s carbon footprint and study solar panels on the roof just down the hall from the kitchen where their ramen noodles are cooking.

The recently completed Aldo Leopold Hall will house its first crop of students and plants this fall with a focus on conservation and sustainability. 

Aldo Leopold Hall is the last of four dorms that were set to be built as part of the 2020 University of Wisconsin master plan. The university’s goal in building Aldo Leopold Hall and Dejope Hall was to increase space to meet demand from incoming students, UW University Housing spokesperson Brendon Dybdahl said.

“In the past we haven’t had enough spaces to even offer contracts to all of the incoming freshman, so the goal was to increase our capacity a bit so we could accommodate all the students that choose to live with us,” Dybdahl said.

With UW’s largest-ever freshman class coming to campus, the demand is certainly there as some students were still wait-listed this year, Dybdahl said.

The hall contains four floors and will be home to 172 residents, Dybdahl said. The rooms are styled almost identically to Dejope, Ogg and Smith Hall, with walk-in closets that are separate from the room, high ceilings, individual room temperature controls, carpeting and air conditioning, he said. In addition, the hall also contains kitchenettes, lounges, laundry and a classroom, he said.

The top floor of Aldo Leopold Hall contains a greenhouse, and the greenhouse learning community will be housed on the third and fourth floors, he said.

The most noticeable difference between Aldo Leopold Hall and the other newer halls is that it is considerably smaller. It is around half the size of Dejope Hall, and the hall is designed to fit in with its Lakeshore surroundings and foster more of a community environment, Dybdahl said.

The new hall’s focus will embody former UW professor and renowned environmentalist Aldo Leopold’s work and help students engage in sustainability and conservation efforts on campus.

“It is exciting to be working in a building named after Aldo Leopold,” Becca Peine, a Residence Life coordinator said. “His commitment and admission to conservation and the way he approached that is definitely something that will influence our programming.” 

The roof has solar panels that will provide some of the hot water heating, Dybdahl said, adding that residents will be able to monitor their energy usage by floor to see what their energy footprint is and raise awareness.

“It’s hard to verify, but we think we are the only residence hall in the country to have something like [the greenhouse learning community],” Dybdahl said. 

Residence Life hopes to give students living in Leopold Hall lots of hands-on learning opportunities. In addition to other projects in the greenhouse, students will take part in food preparation such as canning and growing for consumption, Peine said.

Aldo Leopold Hall also includes work space for bicycle repairs and sustainable modes of transportation. Residence Life hopes that by teaching students these basic repairs they will be able to pass them on to other students around campus, Peine said.

Peine said she hopes Aldo Leopold’s philosophy that “land is a living community to which we belong” will serve as a guide to the new residential hall.