Ground-breaking Sustainability House Has Grand Opening

April 14, 2006

Joe Wills

Ground-breaking Sustainability House Has Grand Opening

The nation's first sustainable campus residence house will have a grand opening Monday, April 17, at 10 am at California State University, Chico. The public is invited to tour the house, part of Konkow Residence Hall, located at 701 W. Sacramento Ave. in Chico.

With support from the Alliance to Save Energy's (ASE) Green Campus Program, students, faculty and staff at CSU, Chico have retrofitted one of the University's residence hall units, the Konkow Honors House 2, to become the CSU, Chico Sustainability House.

The residential space, which houses 16 CSU, Chico freshman honors students, has been equipped with energy-saving appliances, electronics and lighting in bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms and kitchen. The residents will also use sustainable living products, such as bath care, kitchen supplies and cleaning supplies.

"What makes this project special is that we are now testing the ideas and concepts of sustainability," said Mark Stemen, geography and planning professor and adviser to the Green Campus program at CSU, Chico. "These are students who are living on their own for the first time. Not only will they be providing us data about energy savings, but they will be setting patterns and habits of living for the rest of their lives."

Stemen said the involvement of CSU, Chico's honors program in the sustainability project will increase next year through a new class, tentatively titled Sustainable Living and Learning. Students will take an interdisciplinary approach to studying ways to further enhance residential sustainability, Stemen said. Solar energy and composting are two likely areas students will study and work toward implementing, he said.

The CSU, Chico Sustainability House is the third campus residential sustainability project in the United States. University of Hawaii and UC Berkeley first opened energy-saving student apartments, followed by Chico's larger-sized project.

The Sustainability House has all the amenities of a standard student room, but instead of traditional products, uses ENERGY STAR products that reduce energy consumption. This house will be an ongoing educational tool about the importance of energy conservation.

"The students in the house will have to get used to the question, 'How did you get to live in the coolest place on campus?'" Stemen said.

ENERGY STAR products use significantly less energy than standard appliances. For example, ENERGY STAR TVs use about 25 percent less energy than standard TVs; compact fluorescent lights use about 75 percent less electricity as incandescent bulbs; and ENERGY STAR stereos use 60 percent less than standard stereos. Stemen said the appliances were donated by product vendors so they could be demonstrated for the public.

Green Campus is a student-led outreach program designed to educate campus communities about the importance of energy efficiency. Participating California State University campuses are Chico, Humboldt, San Bernardino, San Diego and Sonoma; University of California campuses are Berkeley, Irvine, San Diego and Santa Barbara.

The Green Campus program addresses wasteful behavior and purchasing decisions, and its educational outreach efforts work to improve the sustainability and quality of life on campus.

Green Campus student members at CSU, Chico come from many disciplines, including social science, nutrition, engineering, psychology and geography. They work closely with faculty and other student groups as well as the University departments of Facilities Management and Housing.

The Alliance to Save Energy promotes energy efficiency worldwide to achieve a healthier economy, a cleaner environment and greater energy security. ASE's Green Campus Program is funded by the California rate-payers under auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission. The CSU, Chico project was also funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.


Comments are closed.