In Associate Professor Daniel Hindman’s Green Building Systems course (SBIO 3324), students not only discuss the definition of green building, concepts in green building structures, and the various green building certification systems, they participate in service-learning projects to practice what they’ve learned. Last year’s group projects include the following:

  • Storage space is a priority at Plenty!, a local food bank that includes a cannery and kitchen where people can learn to cook healthy meals. Students built and installed a custom shelving unit from recycled materials with materials obtained from the Wood Engineering Lab and donations from local builder Shelter Alternatives.
  • Tiny house is a minimal living concept, with home sizes ranging from 80 to 300 square feet. Students designed a tiny house unit to be built onsite at Highland Farm, a local farm and music venue.
  • Springhouse Community School, a private high school located in Floyd, Virginia, emphasizes project-based learning and a focus on the environment. SBIO 3324 students served as mentors and coaches to a group of the school’s students who wanted to design and specify a tiny house to be built at the Floyd Eco-Village.
  • While green building education has long been offered at Virginia Tech, there is little such education at the high school level, particularly for trade-oriented students. One group developed a lesson and interactive activity to share the concepts of green building with high school students.
  • Understanding the current attitudes of the architecture, engineering, and contracting community to green building is important. One group worked with Hindman to devise a contractor survey to understand their opinions and feeling about green building. Students became Internal Review Board (IRB) certified surveyors, developed the survey based upon previous research, and submitted all the paperwork to the IRB.
  • Many students were interested in learning more about energy sources that could be used to make a home off-grid. One group examined different energy solutions for housing and discussed the positive and negative aspects. Various items explored included using a generator powered by a small stream, a Tesla Powerwall, and other residential battery systems.