Monday, March 5, 2012

Intro to Environmental Science Students' Eco Dorm Project Underway

This week, some of the Ferrum College students who took Intro to Environmental Science in the Fall of 2011 will see the results of their classroom work outside Riddick Hall when they return from spring break.

While they were gone, a section of asphalt pavement outside the dorm was replaced with turf block, one of the recommendations that the students identified last fall in their Eco Dorm proposal.

Turf block is permeable pavement that allows rainfall to move down into the ground instead of running off into storm drains. In addition the light-colored turf block, which will be planted with grass, should reduce heat loading to the non-air conditioned Riddick Hall, helping it stay cooler in the fall. 

According to Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Science Glen Stevens, the students worked for most of the semester developing ideas, pricing options, and putting together a report and poster session on ways to improve the quality of life in the Lakeside dorms while reducing energy usage. Their results were presented to Ferrum College President Jennifer Braaten and Senior Vice President for Business Affairs Bobby Thompson, who together developed the Eco Dorm concept. The turf block installation underway is just one of the proposed projects that ranged from lighting retrofits to edible landscaping.

Students taking the course Quantitative Environmental Methods in the fall of 2012 will measure the temperature difference in the turf block sections of the dorm wall compared to the asphalt paved areas. Many of the students who developed the proposal will work on the assessment phase as well.

“I think this is a great development, and a very empowering project, as the students can really see the results of their classroom work,” said Dr. Stevens, who is grateful for the support and encouragement the students have received from College administrators. “They got a lot out of simply presenting the proposal, but to have it actually begin to be implemented speaks to the practical applications of what they learn in the classroom, and about the strong linkages between administration, operations, and academics here at Ferrum.”

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