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Case Study > Sustainable life at F&M

 

Sustainable life at F& M

The Franklin & Marshall College Sustainability House is making Lancaster Community more environmentally friendly. Peter Rippberger, a resident of the Sustainability House is opening his door to the Lancaster community to learn more about life in a “green” home. This 8,643 square foot “green” house has 18 bedrooms, two kitchens and four bathrooms. This house consumes about 70 kilowatts-per hour. With the help of a new solar array roof top that number will decrease. You will get an inside look at the 300-square-foot solar array on the roof and all the other great technology makes the Sustainability House environmentally friendly. Installing the solar array rooftop on a typical city building can help change the perception of many Lancaster residents that it is possible to go “green” in the city. Franklin & Marshall College received a $15,000 grant from The Sustainable Energy Fund to make all of this possible.

Sustainability House (Click for video)

 

About Peter Rippberger

Franklin and Marshall Sustainability House

Structure of the Sustainability House

History of the Sustainability House

Budgeting for the Sustainability House

The Wohlsen Center

Sustainability’s House Solar Panel

Recycling and saving energy

Baker Campus Garden

Getting F&M students and the community involve

Franklin and Marshall Sustainability House

The Sustainability House at Franklin and Marshall College is located on West James St. This building made up of two old city homes that are attached was renovated to make one big house for college students to reside in. The Sustainability House has twenty-three people living in it, who are all focused on the same goals. Their goal is to live a sustainable life and help to make Lancaster community a “green environment”. Sustainability houses are very cost-efficient over the lifetime of the house. Although many upfront costs tend to be higher, these houses do not cost as much to maintain, and the utility costs are much lower.

Structure of the Sustainability House

Franklin and Marshall’s Sustainability House contains five double bedrooms, thirteen single rooms, four bathrooms, two kitchens, two lounges and one study room. Three out of the four bathrooms have two showers. In each shower there are shower timers for students to try to take shorter showers to conserve water and energy. They also have a shower note pad made out of recyclable material. This pad is used for each student to keep a personal log of how long they take each time they shower, remembering that their goal is to shorten the length each time. The best feature of the house is the open access to the roof. In the spring many of the students like to head out on the roof top to do their homework and socialize. They also have a great scenic view of Lancaster city from a bird’s eye view.

History of the Sustainability House

The Sustainability House was once the Community Outreach House. Their goal was to provide many opportunities for community to get involved with local organizations to make Lancaster City a better place. Since the Outreach House was not making any progress, Shawn Jenkins and Brain Marshall decided to pitch the idea of turning the Community Outreach House into a Sustainability House. After doing such a good job presenting an impressive blue print of the house about how it will be run and the direction they are planning the take the house, Franklin and Marshall College could not resist giving them the opportunity to try it out. Franklin and Marshall College decided to begin the convergent process of turning the Outreach House into the Sustainability House in 2007.

The Wohlsen Center

Franklin and Marshall assigned Sarah Dawson, Acting Director of the Wohlsen Center to overlook the details of the Sustainability House. The Wohlsen Center serves as a source to enhance the concepts of environmental stewardship and sustainability to the Franklin and Marshal community. The Wohlsen Center gives students a great facility for lectures, seminars, and research projects. The center is devoted to demonstrating environmental stewardship and sustainability to improve the college experience for all students.

Budgeting for the Sustainability House

Part of Shawn Jenkins' original plans for the Sustainability House was to not have a Resident Assistant (RA) living in the building with them. The Sustainability House is the only house on the Franklin and Marshall campus that does not have a live in RA. Jenkins wanted the Sustainability House to have responsible students who are respectful and are truly dedicated to living a sustainable life. Jenkins plan was if the students are responsible enough to live without a resident assistant, then he believes that they will be responsible enough to carry out the goals of the Sustainability House. Sure enough, the residents have lived up to that standard. Without having to pay for a Resident Assistant to live at the Sustainability House, it allows them to have one of the largest budgets on the Franklin and Marshall campus. The Sustainability House also has a bigger budget than other houses because of their ability to live a sustainable lifestyle. They are devoted every month to have their utility bills lower than the previous month. Using a shower timer, turning off all the lights in the rooms when they are not occupied and unplugging every outlet in the house when it is not being used helps the residents achieve this goal.

 

Sustainability’s House Solar Panels

Unfortunately for Shawn and his roommates in the Sustainability House, they do not have their solar panel installed yet, which will help lower their utility bills drastically. The solar panels are in the process of being added to the roof. The base structure for the solar panels is already in place for the panels. These panels are expecting to produce 12 to 15 kilowatts of energy from the sun in one day. The staff at Franklin and Marshall College is testing and doing all the necessary steps to make sure the solar panels will be correctly installed. Students living at the Sustainability House are eager to have the solar panels installed but at the same time, they are willing to wait for them to be correctly installed in order for the panels to work to the best of their ability. It is also a more difficult process then usual because of the unusual structure of the building. Therefore it is going to take a lot of planning and strategic placing of the panels. Solar panels on a roof top in the city, allows residents in the city to realize that it is possible for city houses to have solar panels.

Most people do not believe that their city house will be able to support solar panels; however the Sustainability House is working hard to act as an example to change many others beliefs. The solar panels will be beneficial for the students at the Sustainability House in many ways. They will help lower their expenses because the government has a few financial incentive programs set up to award those that willing to use solar energy. Students at the Sustainability House are hoping that their system will produce more consumable energy that they can use in order for their utility company to buy back the energy from them. Utilities companies can measure this by using a ‘net-metering’ system.

Besides the solar panels being great for the student’s budget, the most important fact about the solar panel is that it is very environmentally friendly. Solar panels are clean, sustainable and renewable which will help to protect the environment. It is not like using other forms of electrical generators that will pollute the air by releasing many different forms of gas such as; carbon, dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide or even mercury. The students know by adding a solar panels to the Sustainability House they are doing their part to help prevent global warming.

Recycling and saving energy

Throughout the house they are signs that to remind everyone to recycle, turn off the lights and most importantly a chore list. Living with twenty-three people would be very difficult for the most part, but for the students at the Sustainability House it is a different environment. Every resident takes part in cooking, cleaning, and taking out the trash. Since everyone is there for the same purpose, a chore list makes it much easier for everyone to get along. It is a very friendly and welcoming environment and they are focused on living sustainable life.

We must tip our hats to the students in the Sustainability House because living green is not always an easy task. It takes great dedication, and a full commitment to make sure they are doing their part in the environment. The students at the Sustainability House ways of commuting are walking or riding their bikes. There are numerous bikes parked outside of the house at all times. At times they will do their best to car pool when necessary. They also make sure to use recycled bags when they go grocery shopping. They do not use plastic bags; they have their own reusable grocery bags. Recycling is a big must in the Sustainability House. There are two big recycling containers throughout the house. These containers have three trashcans inside of them; it is divided into three components for trash, paper and plastic. They also do a great job collecting cardboard and properly disposing of it. The Sustainability House entered a cardboard contest last year involving colleges in the Lancaster area. They received fourth place and the students are very proud of that accomplishment due to the fact that all of Franklin and Marshall’s cardboard came from the Sustainability House compared to the cardboard that was collected by entire colleges.

Baker Campus Garden

One of the biggest accomplishments so far for the students at the Sustainability House is the Baker Campus Garden. Nick Auwaerter and Tyler Plante, residents of the Sustainability House, came up with the idea to build a garden in the summer of 2009. This garden in located on the other side of Franklin and Marshall College campus from the Sustainability House. Auwaerter and Plante received assistance from their roommates and other eager students to help them grow many different kinds of nutritious vegetables and fruits in their garden. They are looking forward to the summer of 2010 to add more plants and to take care their successful garden. “Although this summers garden was very impressive it was still a learning process for my roommates and me. We are looking forward for next year; I believe with all the different techniques we learned will really help us produce really good agriculture. I am really excited to get back in the garden,” Auwaerter said when asked about the garden. This has caused people to start acknowledging the great job the students at the Sustainability House are doing to promote living green.

Getting F&M students and the community involve

Shawn Jenkins and his roommates are in the process of getting not only Franklin and Marshall students involved in living ‘green’ but also the Lancaster community as well. They are working to on setting up an event in the spring where they will be working with the Lancaster Barnstormers baseball team. They are planning to work with the Barnstormers players where they can help set up a day with fun sustainable activities for the community and students. Another up coming event for the Sustainability House is a sustainable fashion show. The Sustainable Fashion Show will be held in the spring of 2010. This event will be for students of Franklin and Marshall to get involved with the Sustainability House to promote green living. Students from the Sustainability House will dress up in different sustainable costumes. They will be walking the catwalk in clothes made entirely out of recycled materials. At the end, students in the audience will be able to vote for the best costume. This voting system will be completely different from any normal form of voting. In order to vote, students will have to give a recyclable item, perhaps a soda can, to the person they think had the best costume. At the end the person with the most recyclable materials will be the winner. This is a great event because it shines the light on the importance of recycling with a fun twist and allows Franklin and Marshall students to get involved with and learn more about the Sustainability House’s goals. By getting other students involved, the Sustainability House residents are hoping that their passion for living a sustainable life will rub off on other students. This is a great way to encourage and show other students how important it is to live a more environmentally friendly life. The Sustainability House will be doing more activities with many clubs on campus, as well as organizations through out Lancaster City. Peter Rippberger, a student at the Sustainability House, said, “It is important to make as many people as we can recognize the job we are doing and we hope they will join us on working to make Lancaster community a more environmentally friendly area for the future.”

Peter Rippberger

Peter Rippberger is a sophomore at Franklin and Marshall College and he is majoring in Environmental Science. Peter is from Connecticut, he is an active participant in the Sustainability House activities on living a sustainable life and lives as an example to others about “living green”. Peter has always had a heart for the environment since he was a little boy and has been practicing the art of recycling for his whole life. He jokes with his friends and tells them “since I am 1/16th Cherokee, a part of me dies whenever I see you litter.” When Peter heard about the opening of the Sustainability House he knew it was a calling to better himself. He took the opportunity as fast as possible. He looked at it as a chance to make a difference in not only his own life, but in other’s lives as well. Peter is thankful to be apart of the sustainability community because of what they stand for.

He realizes that he will not be able to stop global warming but he is going to do all the small things he can to prevent it. Peter has become fully committed to living sustainable, “ living with twenty-two other people who are all about recycling and picking up the trash that crosses their path and doing the small stuff that helps the environment, their good deeds tends to ware off on you,” Peter said. He claims that living in the house really make you care about being sustainable. He claimed at first it took a little getting use to but know he is so glad that he did. He said the biggest difference in living a environmentally friendly life was remembering to take his reusable grocery bag to the grocery store.

When asked was the biggest change to get use to about living in the sustainability house, Peter looked at me and smiled and said, “taking my reusable grocery bag to the store. This one time, which turned out to be my last time I forgot my bag, I was stuck in a predicament after the cash register ran up my groceries I realize I did not have a bag and I could not use plastic bags, so I decided to put the groceries in my shirt and pockets and walked home. After that situation I learned to take my bag with me every time I go grocery shopping and I also realized that I am committed to being sustainable.” He hopes that by working with clubs and other students around campus and the community will help them become addicted to recycling and doing the right things to keep the environment clean. Peter becomes upset and frustrated when he witnesses some one littering or walking by a piece of trash without picking it up. “I think if everyone just does their part, Lancaster County will be much cleaner and more pleasant for people to appreciate.” The Suitability House does their part to help make the world a better place and their goal is to inform everyone possible about the great advantages of going green.

 


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