Taxonomy Term en 10217 Ball State Installs Largest (and most Educational) Ground-Source System in U.S.

The district heating and cooling system will replace coal boilers, cutting the university's carbon footprint in half and saving $2 million a year. It's also a learning opportunity for students.

This energy station for Ball State's ground-source district heating and cooling system is designed so that students and visitors can learn about the system and see how much energy it uses.

With 3,600 bore holes, a massive new ground-source heat pump system at Ball State University is going to become the largest system of its kind in the U.S. when it is fully operational in 2014. It is already cooling 47 campus buildings and heating 20, and it will eventually heat and cool all of them, according to the university.

It's part of Ball State's long-standing leadership on green campus issues, including the interdisciplinary Greening of the Campus conference series, in its ninth year, where the new ground-source system was recently dedicated.

Teaching by doing

Projects like this ground-source district heating and cooling system serve not only a university's buildings but also its students. In fact, the theme of the conference this year was "Building Pedagogy." The conference focused strongly on the cross-curricular learning opportunities that are literally under foot (and overhead) everywhere on campus.

Students are already collecting data from the first phase of the district heating and cooling system, and the university will devote an entire building as a learning area for students and the public.

Do green buildings belong in English class?

Our own Jerelyn Wilson co-led a workshop at Greening of the Campus this year with Cynthia Thomashow, education manager at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), on using campus buildings as teaching tools in the classroom--not only in architecture or engineering classes but also in every other department.

The built environment defines communities and cultures, creating an interface with nature that has implications ranging from the technological to the ethical to the artistic. As Jerelyn and Cynthia emphasized in their workshop, buildings are powerful teachers in all fields of study.

For example, a psychology class could study how students use water in residence halls and what factors make them change their behavior. An English teacher reading early American fiction could take students on a tour of historic campus buildings to help them get a feel for the culture and daily habits of the era. A biology class could compare the biodiversity of an artificial wetland on campus with a natural wetland nearby.

Are you using campus buildings, landscaping projects, or other infrastructure in your classroom? If so, please share your ideas in the comments!

BuildingGreen offers special campus-wide access for high schools, colleges, and universities. Click the link for more information on using these resources in your classroom.

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Would you go to a liberal arts program that doesn't subscribe to JSTOR? No? Then why would you go to an architecture, green building, or sustainable business program that doesn't have BuildingGreen Suite? BuildingGreen Suite integrates online versions of GreenSpec product listings, high-quality articles about green buildings, peer-to-peer comments, and more than 250 project case studies. As you can imagine, the resources are perfect for everything from a text-book replacement and research project tool to reference that facilities staff can use to find green products and academic thought-leader journal. Also, we have reduced the price dramatically for institutional purchase, learn more here. A couple examples of how BuildingGreen Suite is used on campus (and off): How do you know if a school has access? I created the handy, interactive Google map at the top of this post. Click the link below the map to see a alphabetical list. So what can you do if your school is not on the map? If you're a student, go to your professor, dean, or librarian and ask for access to BuildingGreen Suite. If you work at the university, the library is a good place to go, or bring it to the attention of your department or the green planning committee. If you are an alumnus or community member, I recommend contacting your institution to check on what they are doing to ensure the students are adequately prepared to tackle the coming world sustainability issues. That's it. Just start the dialog, and see where it goes from there. Whether you are surprised or disappointed, you are likely to stir discussion at the school, or between you and your peers. If now isn't the time to recommend BuildingGreen Suite, you might want to recommend they check out the BuildingGreen Bibliography for relevant resources to their work. The call to action to build a green, sustainable world has been heard loud and clear by many colleges and universities. The recipe for a good education includes the motivation to learn, great instruction, and the right resources. The motivation can be seen on every campus in the nation, as can great instruction. The right resources can be found at
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