Energy efficient house on campus serves as model

15 October 2019

William Pham 

[email protected] 

     Students often accuse UCCS of not developing or establishing newer features on campus. Regardless of whether one believes in these accusations, one field that continues to prosper at UCCS is their commitment to sustainability. From automatic water bottle re-fillers to flushing strength options on toilets, UCCS has implemented some of the newest yet simple changes to help the environment and university alike. Out of the many achievements of the Office of Sustainability, the least recognizable feat is the Sustainability Demonstration House.  

      The Sustainability Demonstration House, or SDH, has been home to the Office of Sustainability since Spring of 2015. As with some other buildings on campus, the Sustainability Demonstration House used to be a residential home called the Patterson House, which was located at 12 Cragmor Village Drive. Fast forward to 2019, the SDH now sits next to the university Farmhouse, close to parking lot 103.  

     As stated on the Office of Sustainability’s webpage, the intention of the house is to diminish and possibly reduce the use of all of its resources. By achieving this task, the ultimate goal of reaching Net Zero will also be achieved. And because of the remarkable nature of the house, a secondary function of the building is to act as a model for sustainability for future buildings and homes, on and off campus.  

     Since 2015, the Sustainability House has managed to upgrade tremendously with the help of new partnerships and donations. Trees, plants, shrubs and flowers were donated to the house by a company called Harding Nursery. Another company named Interface Carpet has donated, according to the website, over 197 sq. ft. of carpet made from old fishing nets from the Philippines. Any additional revenue acquired by the company is donated to disaster relief. Solar panels were also an added gift, courtesy of SunShare. In an effort to use less electricity and attic fans, Huper Optics installed insulated windows that improve comfort as well as reduce thermal intake.  

     The house was built in 2000 and so all improvements since were done to make the house as efficient and energy saving as possible. Two houses in Boulder, both managed by the Colorado Springs Office of Sustainability and Innovation, are similar to the Sustainability Demonstration House at UCCS, except for the fact that the Boulder houses are not demonstrational. Instead, the two Boulder houses act as a congressional location for meetings and collaborations between different environmental groups. Linda Kogan, director of Sustainability, also expresses how the SDH takes inspiration from the Colorado Alliance for Sustainability building in Denver. 

       Kogan said that the Sustainability House “holds a number of educational workshops, gatherings and meetings.” Kogan also states that a major goal of the house is to hold at least two workshops per semester. The most recent workshop explored insulation and focused on specific procedures and tools relating to heating and cooling losses.  

     On Oct. 15, the SDH will host another event relating to energy-saving issues which include improving the building envelope. Topics that will be covered range from sealing to insulation to caulking. In the not-too-distant spring, Kogan also looks to run a workshop on natural soap and construction of bat houses.  

     Kogan further stresses that the Sustainability Demonstration House, along with the farm, are for the discretion of the students and should be seen as a resource. Because of the surplus of resources and materials flowing out of the SDH, Kogan “hopes to work to coordinate more experiential programming for students and the community.”  

     Kogan wants for SWELL and the SDH to work together in the future to provide for all of the community, not simply UCCS. SWELL, Sustainability Wellness and Learning, is an “initiative to bring sustainability, food, and wellness together to teach about our southern Colorado food shed and water resources to create resiliency for the future.”   

     The Sustainability Demonstration House is an innovative building that is consistently upgrading and growing. Not only does the house act as a great resource for students, it also gives back to the community by teaching and producing resources for future environmentally friendly innovations. Kogan welcomes guests, faculty and students by saying, “we are a short walk right down Cragmor road, next to the Lookout apartments and next to the UCCS Farm in the blue and white house.”  

     Students can become directly involved by firstly expressing interest, then through internships, workshops, events, volunteer work and student jobs.