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Green Dorm Project snags $75,000

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By Allison Dedrick

(Stanford Daily - May 19, 2006) - The Stanford Green Dorm Project and Lotus Living Laboratory was recently awarded $75,000 to continue research on energy efficient and environmentally-friendly buildings. The Stanford group was one of six winners among a field of 40 in Phase II of the People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) student design competition, organized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Mike Lin, a graduate student in mechanical engineering and one of the organizers of the Lotus Living Laboratory class, called the award a great honor and a big pat on the back. Brainstorming sessions in the fall of 2003 motivated Stanford to decide to build a green dorm on campus - an environmentally conscious, sustainable building.

As scheduled, students will be able to move into the dorm in the fall of 2009. The Lotus Living Laboratory is a group of students and faculty who research green-building technologies and feed new information to the architects and designers of the green dorm. They received a Phase I People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) grant of $10,000 last spring and competed against other recipients of the Phase I grant for the Phase II grant of $75,000. Six Stanford students traveled to Washington, D.C. for the competition, which was held on May 9 to 10 on the National Mall. The team presented their research to the officials from the EPA, students from other schools and the general public. We didn't really know what to expect, Lin said. It was a really warm and welcoming environment, not competitive or cutthroat at all. Freshman Chi Nguyen added, It was really inspiring to be in an environment with other schools doing similar interesting and incredible things.

Lauren Dietrich, a graduate student in construction management and an organizer of the Lotus Living Laboratory, agreed that the trip was a positive experience. We completely immersed ourselves in the project, Dietrich said. Our presentations went smoothly and the enthusiasm, creativity and capability of the team shone through. In addition to winning the Phase II of the P3 grants, the Stanford team also was awarded the Green Globes award from the Green Building Initiative. According to a statement released by the Lotus Living Laboratory, Stanford was awarded the Green Globes for being the entry that showed the most potential for commercialization and expansion into the market place. The statement said judges were especially impressed with the project's goals, which went beyond constructing a green dorm on campus to developing a larger program that researches and educates about sustainable pathways for resource use and building development.

The award included a cash prize of $1,000. The team plans to use the money to continue their interdisciplinary research. Lin said that they hope to begin the coordination of more detailed research, especially in monitoring and metering the usage of energy and water. This past year has been largely exploration, he said, noting that the team wants to be able to display information within the dorm about its consumption of energy, hopefully in interesting and novel ways that are more readily available and digestible than bar graphs and charts. The idea is to have a dorm that is not only environmentally-friendly but also increases resident awareness of how it functions and uses resources. Additionally, the group plans to host a Green Dorm and Living Lab conference in the summer of 2007, inviting residents and building managers from similar programs to share their work. We hope to build a cross-University community focused on educating for sustainability though the build environment, Dietrich wrote in an email to The Daily. We also have early plans to network several online building metering and feedback systems to connect these living laboratories in innovative and interactive ways.

From there, the sky is the limit. It is a really exciting time, said Lin. The EPA has confirmed that this is a worthy, honorable and hopefully innovative project. We have a lot to look forward to in the coming year.

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