Theory into Practice: PSU Students Learning Sustainability and Green Building Techniques

December 14th, 2011 by blyndes

Plymouth, N.H. –Amidst Plymouth State University’s tall brick residence halls and academic buildings filled with the latest high-tech conveniences stands a small wooden shed. Despite its size and unassuming appearance, it is providing a valuable, hands-on lesson in environmental sustainability for PSU students.

PSU student Marina Duchesneau, an Environmental Science and Policy major, works on the shed.

One of the student-builders, Sean Carney of North Conway, N.H., a senior Geography major, said the course has been very beneficial.

“This might be the most valuable class I’ve taken here,” said Carney. “It’s not just building a shed–we’re learning about the environmental aspect of building any structure and the need to use the right resources; this is the ‘hands-on’ part of the course, the classroom part was just valuable because I will be aware of where materials are coming from, the energy it takes to get those materials, the production method and the quality; all of those factors can be applied to anything I build in the future.”

EcoShed is student designed and was built using local and recycled materials.

The shed is adjacent to PSU’s EcoHouse, a residence hall that serves as a living laboratory for students and faculty to conduct experiments with sustainable design, alternative energy sources, and other technologies and ways of living. The 250 square-foot structure, the first-ever student constructed campus building, will used as an outbuilding to store gardening tools, bicycles, skis and snowboards. The shed will also be harvesting rainwater to use in the adjoining garden and there will be a “living roof” on the north side, where vegetables can be grown. Marina Duchesneau, a junior Environmental Science and Policy major from Leominster, Mass., sees the ‘big-picture’ learning experience from the project.

“This is teaching me how to live more sustainably; all of the techniques from finding the right materials to the actual building process, I want to do this in building my own home,” Duchesneau said. “It’s great to know how to do this and now I can pass the knowledge on to others.”

During the past year, Plymouth State has been recognized regionally and nationally for its environmental awareness and sustainability efforts. Business NH Magazine awarded PSU’s Savage Welcome Center and Hanaway Rink the 2011 Lean and Green Building Award, recognizing the facility for how its design and construction incorporated cost containment and sustainability, particularly with the savings and energy efficiency of its operation through the closed loop geothermal heating/cooling design.  PSU has also been recognized in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges, a compilation of the most environmentally-responsible higher education institutions in the United States and Canada. As criteria for inclusion, the Guide considers an institution’s commitment to LEED building certification, environmental literacy programs, formal sustainability committees, use of renewable energy resources, and recycling and conservation programs.

For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU News Services Mgr., or call (603) 535-2775.