From academic programs to smart building features, residence life filled with lessons

August 21, 2013

More than just a place to sleep, CU-Boulder's residence halls are host to community and learning environments to support a diverse student body.

As nearly 6,500 students move to campus this week for the 2013-14 school year, CU-Boulder's newest residence hall, Kittredge Central, is welcoming students for the first time. Also, the nearby Kittredge West residence hall is reopened after renovations.

Both buildings comprise Residential Academic Programs, or RAPs -- of which there are 14 across campus -- and a number of “green” features to improve water and energy efficiency and to reduce the campus’s carbon footprint. 

A first-of-its-kind residence

Fifty-three students are moving into the new Global Engineering RAP, housed in Kittredge Central. The program is designed for budding engineers with interests in worldwide engineering systems, foreign languages, international collaborative design and international development.

“We were pleased to attract a number of incoming first-year students who had not found this type of opportunity anywhere else in the country,” said Diane Sieber, faculty adviser of the Global Engineering RAP and associate dean for education in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. “While there are successful residence halls for engineers at other universities, the Global Engineering RAP -- offering cultural and linguistic immersive learning and a focus on global development -- is the first program of its kind.”

Students in the new RAP will take an interactive seminar titled “The Meaning of IT,” or “Informática Global,” which will take place both in Spanish and English, and will be taught by Sieber. The course examines personal and professional behaviors, interactions and information gathering in the digital age with regard to devices, social networks, online games, virtual worlds and global collaborative work. 

Also offered through the new RAP are “Intro to Engineering Projects -- Global Development” and “Spanish Conversation” courses.

“The curriculum prepares students to study or work abroad and to volunteer for international aid projects,” said Sieber. “It also prepares them for sophisticated leveraging of emerging international communication and collaboration tools such as teleconferencing and document- and image-sharing via social network platforms.”

Sieber, who says that large engineering consulting firms currently earn more than 50 percent of their income from international projects, also plans to invite residents each week to prepare meals together using recipes from Spanish-speaking countries. 

Living sustainably

Built to a high Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standard, the new Kittredge Central and the renovated Kittredge West buildings are on track to receive LEED Gold ratings.

Made up of a number of sustainability features that are integrated into all construction on the CU-Boulder campus, the buildings use 33 to 45 percent less energy than other buildings of similar size and function. Features include low-flow plumbing, efficient lighting, efficient heating and cooling systems, “green” insulation and windows, and power outlets in the student rooms that cut off electricity when plugged-in devices are not in use.

More than 25 percent of construction materials contain recycled content; more than 30 percent of the building materials were sourced or manufactured within a 500-mile radius; and more than 95 percent of all of the construction waste from the buildings was diverted from landfills.

Free filtered water bottle filling stations throughout the common areas of the buildings show how many plastic containers may have been diverted from landfills as users stock their own re-useable containers. 

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