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Emi Day
Feb 4, 2012

ARCHIVE: Campus group continues sustainable house hunt

Feb 4, 2012 by Emi Day



Published November 18, 2004

James Hiebert wants a house. Hiebert, a co-director of the Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Living, says a student-maintained home is the ideal way to foster sustainable values.

Since its inception, CASL has been working to gain usage of one of the University-owned properties in the East Campus neighborhood to serve as a living space, classroom, research facility, studio and workshop location.

CASL members would modify the house in ways that would increase energy efficiency (their goal is to reduce energy consumption from non-renewable resources to zero); reduce waste through composting, recycling and other methods; curb water use with rain-collecting devices; increase self-sufficiency with greenhouses; and reduce natural
resource consumption by purchasing used building materials.

And they plan to do it all on a
relatively low budget.

“Forming good habits at home is one of the best things we can do to make a difference in the world,” Hiebert said. “We might not realize it, but an incredible amount of resources is consumed in houses and other buildings. Once good habits are established in our daily lifestyle, we take them everywhere we go.”

Started in 2002 by former graduate student Jo Rogers, CASL’s imperative is to “demonstrate ecologically and socially sustainable technologies and living practices in a residential setting.”

Much of the inspiration behind the CASL house project comes from the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology, a sustainable living project at Humboldt State University, in California. Since 1978, CCAT has maintained a home on the Humboldt State campus.

Miah Mann, the CCAT project engineer and botanist, said its purpose is to provide “opportunities and examples of how to live more lightly on society within an urban environment.” The program has been successful, reducing energy use and waste production to 5 percent of the average home while having consistent student support.

“CCAT has also been a major point in attracting prospective students to Humboldt,” Mann said.

Many University faculty members have expressed approval for the CASL plan. Vice President for Administration Daniel Williams gave the organization a letter of commitment in August of 2003.

No permanent location has been set aside for the house. CASL members say this is because the house would be a combination of a living space and a classroom, which creates problems for University Housing. Also, the University is still considering development options for the east campus area.

“CASL has good support within the administration, but the plan for east campus is not yet complete,” said Robert Melnick, dean of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts. “In my view we have come a long way, but there is obviously still further to go.”

Jon Itkin is a freelance reporter for the Daily Emerald