Topic: College of Architecture and Planning

May 15, 2007

<b>College of Architecture and Planning students and professors won the Green Building Initiative Award at the Environmental Protection Agency~~~s P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) sustainable design competition.</b>
For months, Ball State students and professors designed and built a green technology project with materials that promote sustainability. Now they are hoping the public — and the country — will learn from their national award-winning model.

The Ball State team won the $1,000 award for its green technology demonstration project that includes one of the first load-bearing straw bale structures in the Midwest. The award was presented to the most innovative sustainable commercial design project at the National Sustainable Design Expo April 25 in Washington, D.C.

"It's an honor to be singled out from an amazing range of proposals presented by 42 other institutions," said Tim Gray, assistant professor of architecture. "It's strong affirmation of the hard work the students put into the project."

Eight Ball State students presented the project at the two-day competition, which was a great experience to interact with judges and scholars from other universities, Gray said.

For the students, the competition provided an opportunity to utilize the skills they've learned in the classroom and at the laboratory site, said Kelly Woodward, a recent Ball State graduate who majored in landscape architecture.

"The competition's pressure was intense, but the skills we acquired at Ball State were essential to our success," Woodward said.

The building component of the project was constructed with a variety of sustainable materials including straw bales, laminated veneer lumber and fly ash concrete at a Ball State field station on the Cooper-Skinner farm in northwest Muncie. The facility was created as an immersive learning experience for Ball State students, but plans are to use it for further research and as an outreach program for local schools and residents, Gray said.

"We're trying to design and build the project in such a way that we have a net-zero environmental impact," Gray said. "In other words, we plan to leave the site in as-good-as or better condition than when we started the project, and we want to demonstrate that. We're looking into wind and solar energy sources to power the site rather than plugging into the local grid."

A goal of the project is to integrate the building and site's regenerative systems. The project includes a solar aquatic system, constructed wetlands and other components that work together to convert wastewater into clean water, said John Motloch, professor of architecture.

"It is always a challenge to integrate buildings into nature's regenerative systems in ways that actually sustain or enhance performance of those systems," Motloch said. "We plan to regularly monitor key site indicators to measure the degree to which we sustain a positive balance in the system."

The Green Building Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting credible and practical approaches to green building, provided the award. Eligible projects focused on commercial design and addressed items including project management, site, energy, water, resources, emissions, effluents and other impacts, and indoor environment.

The EPA P3 award competition is designed for college students to research, develop and design scientific and technical solutions to sustainability challenges. Competing universities received an initial $10,000 grant to start the project, and winners received up to $75,000 in additional funding.

For more information about the eco-lab contact Gray at (415) 377-7636 or Motloch at (765) 285-7561.

By Jody Kress