As if these features weren’t green enough, the center’s interior design showcases innovations like paperstone surfaces, made from 50 to 100 percent recycled paper resin sorghum ply board, produced through the compression of discarded stalks left over from the plant grown globally for food.
“It just shows what beautiful things can be made out of these sorts of materials, which are completely nontoxic,” said Darby.
All of these ideas were conceptualized through several student seminars.
“This building illustrates sustainability,” said Cook. “Students designed this building with the expert help of architects and guidance from faculty. The nature of the building is hands-on; it’s a living, breathing experiment that goes way beyond text books.”
Senior physics and environmental science major Carlyn Johnson is credited with the building’s solar panels and performance monitoring system installation as part of a senior project.
“The department is excited to have it’s own space,” said senior Kelsey Ream.
“I think the new building is great; it gives us better tools to get ideas out to the community,” said senior Amy Ochsenreiter. “It’s a lot of fun to come here every day.”
“Being down the hall from faculty and students instead of across campus makes for better communication and collaboration,” said senior Lauren Deem.
Complete with water-conservative bathrooms and an irrigation system that transfers the roof’s collected rainwater into the lobby’s “Living Wall” of tropical plants and surrounding edible growths, it’s no wonder this 100 percent solar and wind-powered building drew the attention of the U.S. Department of Energy.
“It’s a great space with interesting work,” said Maria Vargas, director of the Better Buildings Challenge and Senior Program adviser for the DOE. “I like that they did it for environmental reasons as well as teaching reasons.”
Allegheny College’s part in the Better Buildings Challenge, comprised of more than 50 participating corporate executives, higher education institutions and state and local leaders, is one of leadership, agreed Vargas.
“This is one of the many participants in the challenge agreeing to a 20 percent energy reduction by 2020,” she said. “The college is also sharing these ideas with the market so other organizations and institutions can follow without starting on square one.”
Vargas, along with Pallant, Mullen and Cook gave remarks and congratulated and thanked the school and all those who contributed to the center, which houses over 100 environmental science majors.