Side view of ENS house    ENS house as seen from the South 

History of the Environmental House

In the winter of 1994 Alfred University purchased a house at 16 Park Street in Alfred, and designated it Alfred University´s Environmental Studies House. A combination of faculty and students in the Environmental Studies Department discussed the possibilities for the house and decided to make it a place where students could live and practice an environmentally-friendly and sustainable lifestyle.

In the spring of 1995 the students of the ENS 400 class worked together with their professors to come up with a comprehensive plan of implementation so students could be living in the house by the fall. The class worked together to have blueprints made of the house, they collectively designed the individual rooms of the house, they researched appliances and furniture, and compiled a notebook of environmentally friendly lifestyle recommendations and plans for the future that is still in the house and often referenced.

From the beginning of the house´s creation until present, the residents have always recycled and composted, greatly reducing the amount of garbage sent to the local landfill. Two years ago a solar panel was installed above the back single bedroom of the house, which heats the water, and is monitored by the engineering department. The house residents have been very aware of the energy they are using, and often will cook together, work together in a room, and share appliances.

Recently a few new additions to help energy efficiency have been added to the house. Windows and doors have been sealed as best they could without full replacement, lights have been replaced with compact fluorescent bulbs, and new insulation was installed to decrease the amount of heat lost in the winter through the attic. A greenhouse has also been added and starting in the Fall of 2004, residents of the house will actively be able to take part in this project, gardening and harvesting, as well and enjoying the sweet tasting vegetables that are produced within it.

Current residents of the Environmental house and their advisor, Dr. Michele Hluchy, are planning trips (for all interested peoples) to visit other environmentally friendly houses within the village, and at other colleges next semester. They are also developing community programs to increase awareness of "green" techniques, and encouraging anyone who is interested to join them. The Environmental House holds two "Open House" opportunities each year, which establishes a set time for the local community members, faculty, and students to have a tour of the house, as well as to learn more about how they can live in a more sustainable way within their own homes, apartments, and dorm rooms.

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