Topic: College of Architecture and Planning

April 11, 2007

A group of Ball State students is traveling to the nation's Capitol to compete in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Sustainable Design Expo April 24-25.

The College of Architecture and Planning students will share the lessons they learned from designing a building and landscape integrated with the environment and constructing the building as one of the first load-bearing straw bale structures in the Midwest, an entry in the EPA's P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) sustainable design competition.

Under the rules of the contest, the students and their faculty advisers were given $10,000 to develop sustainable solutions to environmental challenges. From designing the building and landscape as a learning module integrated with the environment and constructing the straw building component — another one of the university's successful immersive learning experiences — the students were able to demonstrate sustainable practices as a viable alternative to local conventions. They also created an ongoing education, research and demonstration facility.

The landscape and living components of the water-wastewater-energy-building-landscape system will be built if the next phase of the project is approved. The integrated system, which includes the straw bale structure and the landscape systems, will harvest resources, use them and return them to the site in at least as good quality as when harvested.

Students now have a much better understanding of the relationships and challenges that need to be addressed when making built environments, said John Motloch, landscape architecture professor and one of the project's advisers.

"Our students have done a wonderful job showcasing the sustainable relationships of buildings, people, prosperity and the planet," he said. "They also developed the bigger picture of how Ball State has provided sustainability leadership for the past 20 years and how this P3 project and other initiatives are taking the university's sustainability leadership to the next level."

More than 50 students have worked and studied at the straw bale site, which is located at the university's field station on the Cooper-Skinner farm. Motloch, along with architecture professor Tim Gray and eight students will make the trip to Washington, D.C., to present the results of the integrated system.

Part of the competition includes the project vying for phase two funding, Motloch added.

The expo takes place on the National Mall and will feature more than 300 students from more than 40 colleges and universities exhibiting their sustainable designs. These will include green design and buildings, innovative alternative energy and materials, and clean drinking water treatment technologies.

More information about the expo and the P3 Awards can be found at