NWACUHO
Northwest Association of College & University Housing Officers

Puget Sound Lives Green

Kelly Ammendolia
University of Puget Sound

 

Residence Life at the University of Puget Sound is taking a close look at its sustainability-themed campus housing. During the summer of 2008, the University of Puget Sound (Puget Sound) renovated a five-bedroom residential campus house to LEED Gold certification standards as part of an on-going commitment to sustainability. Puget Sound owns approximately 60 residential houses that sit around the perimeter of campus—a unique and attractive housing option for sophomores, juniors and seniors choosing to live on campus. The university currently has no residency requirement. Campus constituents felt that the creation of a sustainable living house would be a perfect opportunity to showcase Puget Sound’s sustainability efforts and demonstrate how students and the community can partner together to promote sustainable lifestyles. In 2007, representatives from Residence Life and Facilities Services joined forces to make this green dream a gold reality.

 

The renovation project involved retrofitting an existing campus house. The house was designed to meet LEED Gold standards using local materials, vendors, and architects. Some features include: 100% recycled particle board cabinetry, 55% recycled flooring, 50% postconsumer recycled paint on all walls, solar power panels, ultra high efficiency HVAC system with no ozone-depleting refrigerants, Energy Star-rated appliances, low flow toilets and shower heads, a compost bin, and rain barrels to collect water for irrigation. The cost of the project was supported through the university’s budget.

The Live Green House is an exciting opportunity for students to practice sustainable living and support sustainability efforts on campus. Residents of the Live Green House go through training in the fall to prepare them to care for the house, and work closely with Residence Life and Facilities Services throughout the year to create and maintain a green living environment. The students are also asked to facilitate house tours and participate in campus resource fairs. This year, we opened our campus to the Green Tacoma Partnership. The Live Green House served as one of several community tour destinations on Green Tacoma Day. Aryn Grause, a sophomore studying Business Leadership at Puget Sound, has lived in the Live Green House since August 2009. When asked about her experience in the house, Aryn said, “Living in this house is a treat. Not only is it beautiful but there are some great lessons to be learned within the house. Every person that lives in the house has a different background and we all have our own areas that we feel more environmentally aware. Since living in this house I have become more aware of little ways I can reduce my consumption of energy and water.”

 

Residence Life conducts a recruitment and selection process in February for continuing students interested in the Live Green House. Students must submit an application, which includes a short answer question about their experience and interest in sustainability. One of the five residents is selected to serve as the house coordinator, essentially the point of contact and organizer for the group. For the 2010-2011 year, Residence Life received 12 applications for five spots. The buzz about this program is getting out and students are excited to participate!

 

As the Live Green House celebrates the completion of its second year, Residence Life is reflecting on the program’s strengths and challenges with hope for continued improvement. Some noted strengths include: ever increasing student buy in and interest, avenues for collaboration across campus departments and with entities in the local community, and a positive marketing and recruitment platform for the university. One area of challenge exists around taking full advantage of utilizing the skills and experience of the five student residents of the Live Green House. Although the students are trained and serve as representatives for the university in various capacities, we recognize that the students’ knowledge and leadership could be used in more intentional ways. Residence Life plans to connect the students with even more training, outreach and programming opportunities on campus and in the community in the year to come. As an initial step, current and future Live Green House residents will come together for the first time to discuss their roles and experiences and brainstorm ways to increase the students’ involvement during the 2010-2011 year. This meeting will occur in the end of April.

 

Puget Sound is proud of the Live Green House and the momentum the program has gained over the past two years. We look forward to continued growth and improvement and are excited to share our experiences with other institutions considering similar renovations and programs!

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