Associate Professor Wangda Zuo teaches the Sustainable Building Design course (AREN 4890/5890), which recently partnered with Boulder Housing Partners for a real-world project. BHP recently raised $13 millioin to develop Phase II of the Red Oak Park Community in Boulder, which will provide 41 additional affordable housing units to the existing units developed in Phase I. The course project objective was to develop a sustainable design for this affordable housing community project. The BHP representatives provided them with first-hand project information, tours of the project site and success stories and lessons learned from the Phase I project. They also served as judges for the students’ design.
"Students got very excited about the possibility of making real-world impact on the disadvantaged community via their course project," Zuo said.
Throughout the semester, the students performed several analyses to help inform sustainable design directions for the buildings. These analyses included climate assessments, studying the wind flow across the project site through computational fluid dynamics, developing energy models for the buildings, and evaluating construction costs. They not only looked at how buildings can be designed to consume less energy and use less toxic materials, but also how buildings can affect the health and well-being of people. Students were also continuously challenged by real-world problems, such as compliance with local building codes, parking requirements, budget constrains, availability of utility and public transportation, and specific needs of residents.
"This collaboration project was a special opportunity to apply the knowledge we learned in class to a real community,” said Katy Hinkelman, one of the students who took the course in fall 2018. “It is rare that students get to work on real projects such as this, and it was a privilege to share our work with Boulder Housing Partners."
Collaboration projects like this show how academia and industry have the potential to help our communities grow and learn.
Left: Red Oak Park site visit. Right: Final classroom presentation.