Marietta College recently received a Higher Education Grant from the Dominion Foundation that will help add a sustainable living option to campus.
The $25,000 grant will be used to convert an existing dormitory into a more sustainable living environment that students can choose as housing. Initial plans call for solar panels while eventually power could come from a wind turbine.
"We are very excited about getting some grant money to start converting one of our small dormitories," said Andy Grimm, a professor of the Energy Systems program at Marietta College.
The Pioneer House at the corner of Fourth and Butler streets has been chosen to be converted. The house features 20 rooms and can house approximately 40 students, said Grimm.
Using the Pioneer House has several advantages, said Fred Smith, director of the college's physical plant. Because it is smaller, fewer capital costs will be necessary to convert it. It is also one of the few housing facilities on campus that has individually measured energy usage.
"Here we can measure how much water, sewage, electric and gas this building is using," said Smith.
The Pioneer House
Twenty rooms house approximately 40 students.
Currently features rain barrels, raised garden beds and a compost pile.
Will soon be installed with solar cells for electricity and solar water heating components.
Eventual renovation plans include energy efficient windows and appliances, improved insulation and possibly small wind turbines.
The building also shares a similar blueprint to both the A & H House and the Alpha Tao Omega house. Therefore, energy usage in the renovated sustainable living dorm can be compared to that of both similar dorms.
"Hopefully by doing that we set an example for the other houses," said Smith.
The initial grant will not cover all of the changes that Grimm has in mind for the dormitory but will be used to purchase solar cells and solar hot water heaters.
The installation of these panels will take place over the next nine months and will not disrupt the students currently living in the Pioneer House, said Grimm.
"We will put solar panels and solar hot water connectors on the roof, and it is pretty easy to integrate it," said Grimm.
The students currently living in the Pioneer House have not been asked to participate in the sustainable living dorm. Students of the 2013-2014 academic year will be able to request housing in the dorm, said Smith.
Marietta College began offering a Energy Systems minor in the Spring 2012 semester. Interest in the program has been steadily growing and those students will be likely candidates to live in the dorm, said Grimm.
"We would offer those students the opportunity to live in the sustainable demonstration house as part of their programs, as a laboratory of sorts," said Grimm.
Pioneer House already houses a few sustainability projects. Through a recent Eagle Scout program, rainwater collection barrels, raised garden beds and a compost pile were added to the backyard.
The long-term goal is for the house to be completely energy efficient and independent from non-renewable energy sources. This would include three pane windows, energy efficient insulation, improved insulation and possibly small wind turbines, said Grimm.
Ultimately, the dorm will serve as example of sustainable living not only for students but the entire community, said Smith.
"We have a lot of school children and community members visit the planetarium. We would like to have them visit the planetarium and then visit the sustainable lifestyle house as well," said Smith.