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Emi Day
Feb 4, 2012

ARCHIVE: Hands-on house

Feb 4, 2012 by Emi Day


Published April 7, 2005

The Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Living met with University officials Wednesday to discuss the possibility of receiving a house that it could use to showcase advancements in sustainable building techniques.

CASL is a student group that promotes research and education in sustainable building practices. The group, which works under the School of Architecture & Allied Arts, wants a house that it plans to gradually remodel using sustainable building practices.

CASL Co-Director Sebastian Colletsaid co-directors would live in the house and keep it open to the public. He said the group intends to have a library with books about sustainable building and energy-efficient resources and materials. It will also host workshops to provide groups with hands-on experience.

In a process that has taken more than two years, University officials put CASL in a waiting pattern, agreeing to give the group a place that it can meet in, but it can’t remodel that place. This leaves the group unable to begin many projects it hoped to start after receiving a house. Collet said the group was promised a house during the last school year.

Rich Linton, the vice president for Research and Graduate Studies, said he advised the group to submit a “surge request” to Institutional Affairs for a temporary meeting place until the details for a permanent location could be worked out.

Wednesday’s meeting of the University Space Committee brought approximately 20 people, mostly supporters of CASL’s mission, to the EMU’s Century Room D.

Rob Thallon, A&AA associate dean for administration, said he thought support and a firm commitment from the University were important.

“They have a lot of organization, a lot of talent. It’s apparent they are a really important group,” Thallon said.

CASL Co-Director James Hiebert said any space that could be allocated would allow the group to move forward, even if slower than planned.

“It would help us to have a space to put things; a central office, a place to meet,” Hiebert said. He added that the group could work on portable projects until a permanent house is allocated.

University Registrar Herb Chereck said he was supportive of the project and hoped it would lead to the A&AA school receiving “green” certification.

“I think a certificate is a very
viable option,” Chereck said. “It’s practical; it’s timely. I think it has an awful lot of potential.”
University Planning Associate and Space Analyst Cathy Soutar said a house wasn’t available but offered the group a meeting place in a University building behind Rennie’s Landing. Thallon and Collet agreed to look at the space to see whether it would meet the group’s needs temporarily.

“It’s not a place to meet our mission’s goals,” Collet said. “But it is a huge step in the journey.”

Collet said the space would allow the group members to stop working out of their backpacks and create
physical projects.

Members say the process of finding a home for CASL has been a long one.
“There originally had been a
meeting that said we should have a house by last spring,” Collet said. “Then it became last summer.”

The group received a letter of support from Vice President of Institutional Affairs Dan Williams two-and-a-half years ago.

Jan Oliver, associate vice president for Institutional Affairs, said she was involved in the process of allocating a house to the group until last year. She said the biggest obstacle to overcome has been getting through proper
zoning channels.

“The project is waiting for the East Campus Development Plan,” Oliver said.

Oliver said the University and the City of Eugene are making plans to rezone portions of the East Campus neighborhood, where the intended house will be located. Until these changes can be made, she said any house they receive would be temporary and all parties involved want to avoid that situation.

Collet said University officials have apologized to the group for being “naive” about the planning process. He said he would rather wait and make sure the house will be permanent. He said campus housing has several houses it intends to release to the University in the near future, and he is hopeful something will happen then.

“We wanted to make sure
the house would last for a long time, not be torn down for dorms,” Collet said.
He said the University agreed to give CASL the house in livable condition, free of lead paint and asbestos.

Collet said the majority of funding for the project would come from workshop fees and support from the business community.

“We’ll try to have CASL as an organization cover the costs of the events,” Collet said.
CASL recently received a
$5,000 prize from Burt Rutan,
one of the designers of SpaceShipOne, which launched the first civilian-designed spacecraft to reach space, winning the coveted $20-million Ansari X-Prize. Collet said the group will use the money to build its model of a pedal-powered portable generator.