Residence hall helps students gain understanding of sustainable design

November 8, 2011 •

CU-Boulder’s newest residence hall, Williams Village North, welcomed students this fall for the first time, many of whom will be learning about the building’s sustainable design through two new Residential Academic Programs (RAPs) that are housed in the residence hall.

The two RAPs, Sustainable by Design and Social Entrepreneurship for Equitable Development and Sustainability (SEEDS), will allow students to use the building as a living and learning laboratory. The RAP programs are designed to introduce students to faculty and to allow them to take selected courses and to participate in educational and social events—all within their residence hall.

“One of our main objectives with the SEEDS RAP is to bring students from different academic backgrounds together and have them work together to learn about sustainability,” said Professor Susan Clarke, faculty director of the SEEDS RAP.

Professor Joann Silverstein of the College of Engineering and Applied Science is the faculty director of the Sustainable by Design RAP.

As an introduction, students from both new RAPs are required to take a course titled Social Innovation and Design for Sustainable Communities, which highlights the multidisciplinary aspect of the programs. Architecture assistant professor Matthew Jelacic serves as the faculty in residence for both of the RAPs, and is one of the professors team teaching the course.

The course is centered on the concepts of design, innovation and sustainability, and uses the concept of design to bridge engineering and social science domains, according to Jelacic.

The RAPS also will have an annual theme, and this year they are focusing on food.

“The issue of sustainability is not a straightforward concept,” Clarke said. “Sustainable food production is a very difficult problem to solve, but it is also something students can relate to and learn about with a hands-on approach.”

Built to a high Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard, the new Williams Village North building has numerous sustainability features. The building also is on track to be the first LEED Platinum building on campus.