Since taking up residence in the University of Louisville’s Green Dorm Room, I have often been asked what I like about living in it. This is a hard question to begin to answer, because what is not to love about living more sustainably on a daily basis? Feeling better about everything from flushing the toilet to the very manner in which my room was renovated has been nothing short of amazing.
The Green Dorm Room, in Louisville Hall, developed first as a challenge to 10 students in Jamie Horwitz’s Sustainable Architecture course, a three-hour seminar in art history. At the request of Russ Barnett, director of research and development for the Kentucky Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Development, these students gave their input to design the room during the spring 2009 semester.
Turning the students’ conceptual design into an actual dorm room was made possible with a $5,000 grant from Arts and Sciences Dean Blaine Hudson. The art students were excited to work on this project because, as one put it, The model dorm room could eventually spur UofL to change its approach to residence hall purchasing by focusing on environmentally sustainable products. This was a point well stated. I feel honored to live in a space that is bringing our campus one-step closer to housing students in a more environmentally friendly manner.
Certain features distinguish this room from any other room on campus. These differences are much more sustainable and also aesthetically pleasing! The floors are made of bamboo. Since bamboo is a grass, it is much more sustainable in its growing cycle than wood. Grasses will grow back in a relatively quick manner. Bamboo also is exceptional to walk on! We have no need for carpet. The bamboo is soft and has never grown cold as tile often does. In addition, one wall is covered in clay. The clay has insulating features, as well as easy upkeep. The soft green color adds visual variety and a homey touch. The large windows let in vast quantities of natural light, cutting down the need to use electric lights during the day. A beautiful ceiling fan helps regulate temperature. Having a low-flow showerhead and toilet, as well as an aerator on the faucet, has cut water use by about 50 percent! With tall ceilings, large windows and the several distinctive green characteristics, the room more like a modern, innovative, energy efficient living space than a dorm.
As the chair of housing’s Green Committee, a goal of mine is to educate fellow residents, in particular, about sustainable living. It is a future goal to create greener dorm rooms on our campus, but for now, education can bring students a long way toward sustainable living in their traditional residence halls. By learning how small everyday changes in routine can make a huge difference, students can create lowered energy and resource consumption by the university as a whole.
As the year begins, I have a simple resolution: to live even greener and to help others along the path, as well.