The Standard

The aesthetic standard for ecological design is to work so artfully as to cause no ugliness, human or ecological, somewhere else or at some later time. In other words, the standard, requires a robust sense of aesthetics that rises above the belief that beauty is wholly synonymous with form alone. Every great designer from Vitruvius through Frank Lloyd Wright demonstrated that beauty in the large sense had to do with the effects of buildings on the human spirit and our sense of humanity. But the...

Material Outputs

Wastewater production can best be minimized through conservation measures that reduce fresh water use. Installations, such as gray-water systems, are mentioned in the section on inputs. Description of the challenges related to storm-water management are provided in the Buildings and Grounds sections of this document. Organic Wastes (Food Waste, Yard Waste) The College will encourage the development of a composting facility, either on or off campus, and will institute policy that mandates the...

Design for Spirit

For designers, it is no small thing that humans are inescapably spiritual beings, but only intermittently religious. Philosopher Erazim Kohak once noted (1984, 170) that humans can bear an incredible degree of meaningful deprivation but only very little meaningless affluence. Most of us tend to grow and mature in the former condition, but come undone in the latter. This is not a call to deliberately incur misery, which tends to multiply on its own with little assistance, but rather one to...

The Building Program Equals the Fundraising Strategy

As a rule, about half of the money for college and university buildings must be borrowed. If this experience is a useful guide, the ideas embedded in the building program are as important as the need for the building itself. Lacking exciting ideas, it is hard to create enthusiasm about the project among potential donors, or anyone else for that matter. Buildings are means, not ends, but a means to what The Lewis Center was conceived as an experiment in education relative to solar technology,...

Education of Designers

As much art as science, the design professions are not simply technical disciplines, having to do with the intersection of form, materials, technology, and real estate. The design professions such as architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning are first and foremost practical liberal arts with technical aspects. Writing in the first century BC, Vitruvius (1960, 5-6) proposed that architects be educated, skilful with the pencil, instructed in geometry, know much history, have...

Resource Flows and Campus Ecology

The operation of educational institutions in ways that undermine the future of the students we purport to educate cannot be justified. As learning organizations, colleges and universities would monitor their environmental impacts and amend their operational guidelines in order to eliminate pollution, carbon dioxide emissions, and toxic chemicals, and support the emergence of sustainable local economies. Construction and building renovation would conform to the highest standards possible. Other...

Develop a Larger Learning Process

This project originated on the periphery of institutional consciousness. No formal or informal feedback loops bridged this project with other building projects, or to institutional operations or trustees. The project had no strong advocate within the administration, which may explain why no effort was made to develop a shared vision, what Senge labels common mental models among the trustees, senior staff, facilities management, and faculty. The administration initiated no review of the project...

Catalysts

Who will drive the learning process It is easy, in Senge's words (2000, 293), to look at the depth and breadth of these issues and conclude that only university presidents and boards have the power to bring about the types of changes needed. But, continues Senge, this would be exactly the wrong conclusion. The limits to executive, top-down leadership are many, and not least is the separation of presidents from the day-to-day realities of the institutions. Imaginative and intellectually dynamic...

Reducing Energy Consumption

Since Facilities Resource Management assumed operation of the campus in July of 1998, fossil fuel use has decreased by 15 . There is, however, room for substantial further improvements. A twofold approach to reducing energy consumption consists of 1) improving the thermal efficiency of buildings and operating efficiency of equipment, and 2) instituting creative policies and educational initiatives that encourage students, faculty, and staff to conserve energy. Buildings and activities within...

Increasing Efficiency and Decreasing Environmental Costs of Production and Distribution

Minimizing pollution associated with energy production should be accomplished with a twofold approach that focuses on increasing efficiency of energy production and generation, and on shifting to less polluting forms of energy production. Coal is the most polluting of fossil fuels, generating toxic particulates locally,2 acid deposition regionally, and contributing disproportionately to global climate change relative to other fossil fuels. Recognizing this fact, Oberlin College seeks to reduce...

General Policy Statement

In order to live up to Oberlin College's commitment to environmental stewardship, the general area of transportation must be considered. Over the years, Oberlin students, faculty, and staff have become increasingly reliant on the use of cars for their day-to-day activities, and for their transportation to and from the campus. This increasing use of cars has negatively altered the quality of life on campus and in town through the attendant growth of centrally-located parking lots and increased...

Evolution as Model and Nature as Standard

The starting point for ecological design is the 3.8 billion years of evolutionary history. Nature, for ecological designers, is not something just to be mastered it is a tutor and mentor for human actions. For example, Janine Benyus (1998), author of Biomimicry, points out that spiders make biodegradable materials stronger than steel and tougher than Kevlar without fossil fuels or toxic chemicals. From nothing more than substances in seawater, mollusks make ceramic-like materials that are...

Energy Production and Use General Policy Statement

Energy transformation and use results in a variety of environmental pollutants, having impacts locally, regionally, and globally. Fossil fuels, particularly coal, are the greatest source of energy-related pollution. The principal impacts associated with using fossil fuels are the release of CO2 and other pollutants into the atmosphere. The scientific consensus is that the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere has already led to undesirable changes in the global climate, including an increase in...

Status of Facilities and Energy

Oberlin College is nearly 100 percent reliant on fossil fuels for energy, and most of this energy is derived by burning coal. The College owns and operates a coal-fired heating plant (with supplemental use of natural gas at transitional times of the year) to generate the bulk of the campus's heating requirements. Natural gas provides space and water heating at local sites. A small amount of electricity is produced through cogenera-tion. However, the bulk of campus electricity is purchased from...

References

The Spell of the Sensuous. New York Pantheon. Ackerman, Diane. 1991. A Natural History of the Senses. New York Vintage. Adam Joseph Lewis Center, Project Goals and Principles, Oberlin College, April 19, 1996. Adamson, Davis, Lisa Matthiessen, and Peter Morris. n.d. Costing Green A Comprehensive Cost Database and Budgeting Methodology. Alexander, Christopher. 2001-2004. The Nature of Order. 4 vols. Berkeley Center for Environmental Structure. Alexander, Christopher, Sara...