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 Tuesday, March 22, 2005 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Outdoor Engineering Laboratory Promotes Sustainable Building Practices
By Carol Rowe, College of Engineering and Applied Science

The College of Engineering and Applied Science is building a unique, new teaching and learning facility that will give students the opportunity to practice sustainable building techniques in an outdoor setting.

The facility, called the Field Laboratory for Appropriate and Sustainable Technologies, is located directly east of the Administrative and Research Center on Marine Street. The laboratory was approved as a temporary structure for a one-year period and has already generated a number of questions from staff working in the ARC.

The 400-square-foot structure is part of the Engineering for Developing Communities initiative, an educational program started by Professor Bernard Amadei of civil, environmental and architectural engineering. Amadei also is the founder of the nationwide nonprofit organization Engineers Without Borders-USA, which uses volunteer labor to conduct engineering outreach in developing communities around the world.

The new field laboratory is an integral part of Amadei's civil engineering course, Sustainability and the Built Environment, which covers topics such as eco-materials, sustainable water and wastewater systems, renewable energy, waste and waste products, green building construction, straw bale construction, natural plasters and building with earth and straw. Students also may use the laboratory to conduct hands-on experiments for other courses or for independent study.

"The sustainable building techniques being studied at our outdoor lab can be implemented in both industrialized and developing communities," said EDC program coordinator Robyn Sandekian. "Students will be using readily available 'waste' materials, including straw, previously used concrete and crushed plastic bottles to build a structure that is both earth-friendly and person-friendly-that is, healthy, energy-efficient and low-impact."

The goal of the facility is to be self-sufficient, generating its own power using solar voltaic panels and possibly biodiesel, and collecting and processing enough rainwater to complete all onsite projects.

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