EcoVillage project enters planning stage

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November 12, 2010

12:57 AM

Initial planning is underway for the conversion of the Lodges and Daily Grind into a sustainable EcoVillage, a project showcasing the College of William and Mary as the first “Do One Thing” university.

The Committee on Sustainability, in collaboration with students, faculty and administration, began financial planning, architectural mapping and sustainable research for the EcoVillage after initial interest from a Board of Visitors member set the project in motion in April. By summer 2011, the Committee on

Sustainability tentatively expects completion of renovations for two lodges. However, the EcoVillage is not estimated to be completed for several years.

“There’s no deadline for the creation of the EcoVillage,” Clare Stankwitz ‘11, an EcoVillage student researcher, said in an e-mail. “Each lodge will be completed separately, as the funding is raised from private sources. This is a long-term project, and the fundraising, development and completion of the Lodges will be a continuous process. In the next academic year, the project will likely ‘break ground’ on the first renovations. We also aim to begin applying for grants and approaching donors for the construction this winter.”

Eight different themes have been identified for each lodge, including food and agriculture, water efficiency, energy and space efficiency, biodiversity, recycled materials, affordable housing and transportation. The Daily Grind cafe will serve as a model sustainable business.

According to Stanwitz, student research has concentrated on possible sustainable products, technologies and techniques as well as which features will go in each lodge. The energy and gas output of the current lodges is also being monitored.

“Next steps include solidifying the specific aspects of each theme, deciding in which lodges to locate each theme, deciding which two lodges to begin first and [developing] architectural drawings for the first two lodges to be renovated,” Stankwitz said.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science professor Dennis Taylor, a member of the Committee on Sustainability’s Steering Committee and a leader in the EcoVillage’s development, identified finances as a major challenge.

“We will have a better idea of progress after fundraising,” he said. “As early as late December, we should be in a position to put out initial bids. Likely cost per building will be between $300,000 and $500,000.”

Taylor mentioned Home Depot and Lowe’s as two corporations that have shown interest in constructing and donating toward the EcoVillage project. In addition, Moseley Architecture has provided initial architectural guidance by developing a plan for a matrix of buildings.

“The EcoVillage will be a good chance for those corporations investing in green living to showcase their involvement,” Taylor said. “Lowe’s has been involved in other sustainable living projects, and there are diverse places to go to see sustainable living places on college campuses.”

According to Taylor, the College’s EcoVillage idea is considered unique compared to other universities’ sustainable living quarters.

“Not only will the EcoVillage allow the average homeowner to see how they can incorporate sustainable living into their home, but [it] will include experimental green living materials and designs,” Taylor said. “The EcoVillage is unique in that it integrates student and faculty research into practical sustainable living.”

For the current academic year, the Green Fee generated $208,845. More than half of that amount, $148,845, will go towards COS project funding including the EcoVillage. COS designated $28,000 in spring 2010 to go towards Lodge utility metering. Once the renovations are complete, psychological research focusing on the life of the residents in a green space will also be conducted.

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