Students at The University of Findlay Living Green in Campus Houses

The houses at 138 and 146 W. Foulke Ave. on the campus of The University of Findlay, Ohio, may look like “normal” student residences, but the students living in those houses chose to live there with a common goal to reduce energy consumption and to lower their carbon footprints.
With four students in one house and five in the other – all male – they are developing and implementing ways to save energy and create less waste. Monitoring instruments were installed during the summer to measure water, electrical and natural gas use.

“Living in this house, I will learn how to change my life and use new technology to lower my carbon footprint and use less energy,” said Drew Bihary, a sophomore environmental, safety and occupational health management major from Lorain. “I believe experiencing life in a more sustainable environment will allow me to properly apply the technologies to my future professional projects.”
According to Timothy Murphy, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental, safety, and occupational health management, the students are living “normally” during the fall semester in order to get a baseline measurement for their normal energy usage, which can be compared to historical energy usage at the house. During the spring semester, the students will compete to see which house can reduce its energy consumption the most. Murphy, with help from graduate student Lukas Kromer, will compute the data from each property.
Students will come up with ideas to make both behavioral changes and environmental changes. Behavioral changes could include taking shorter showers, lowering the temperature on the thermostat during cold months, walking instead of driving and hanging clothes to dry instead of using a clothes dryer. Environmental changes may include adding insulation or lining windows in the winter months.

Both houses also will be retrofitted to use either solar power (138) or wind power (146). Grant funds have been awarded to the University from both the BP Foundation and Dominion Resources to help fund the new power systems, which will be set up in an open lot east of 138. They are projected to be operating by Jan. 1, 2012. It is anticipated that the alternative energy systems will provide emission-free power equal to 60-70 percent of the total baseline energy requirements for each home.

The installation of the systems will be planned and scheduled by students in an environmental, safety and occupational health (ESOH) project management course, and they also will be responsible for monitoring the progress of the greater sustainability project.
The students living in the houses hope to encourage others to make changes to their own lifestyles and will give presentations on the sustainable living project next fall.

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