Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Finally, a news article about the new Pres Res

Lots of people have been asking me when this house would get built. There's been a hiatus while the company in charge, Bensonwood, made some arrangements to demonstrate different equipment and appliances in the building. (MIT is also involved in the project, the primary academic design partners.) Other people, particularly those of our students who work for local renewable energy companies, have been asking if they can work on it. Unfortunately as befits a prototype "manufactured home," the whole thing will be assembled at the factory for testing, disassembled, then brought here in big chunks and reassembled. As Rob Constantine explains, we bought a whole house here, finished, not a building project.

But I'm glad to see that our graduates still know how to advocate.

Don't worry, we have another house project upcoming that is better designed for local firms to participate in, our retrofit demonstration house. This is a basic American ranch house that already stands and is owned by the college, and we'll be reworking it beginning soon, to make it as climate neutral as it can be: zero fossil fuels to run, as few fossil fuels embodied in the retrofit as possible. Students will do much of the design and work, using donations from important energy and equipment companies.

We'll put a receptionist in there and open it to the public, as well as use it for training our new degree program graduates and energy folks in general. An environmental education center will go in the two largest rooms, others will be used for various offices, such as sustainability coordinator or student newspaper. We already have pledged a cold-climate heat pump for this building, thanks to Hallowell Inc. Other equipment should be forthcoming after we send out a mailing, very soon, to Maine businesses for funds and equipment for us to demonstrate or beta test.

I started a web site for the Sustainability House here where you can follow the process blow-by-blow.

We will of course use the President's House for education too, and at times we will open it to the public. But not every day of the week! Mitch and Cindy might not like having folks traipsing through quite that often.

I already give campus tours to visitors and other folks who want to see innovative sustainability design, but by the time this year is out, and we've worked on both these house projects, and some innovative heating projects we have up our sleeve, this campus will be one of the best demonstration sites for building sustainability in the nation. That's the plan, at least.

Watch this space for updates on both houses this year.
To read the Sentinel article on the Pres Res, which will also feature a Hallowell heat pump on beta test, go here.

Bensonwood's wep page with details of the house is here.

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