The Sustainable Living Center Building
A Building in Tune with Nature
Using a combination of wind, solar, and geothermal energy, our Swartz-Guich Sustainable Living Center goes beyond net zero and actually creates more energy than it uses. That’s part of the reason why it was called “the ultimate green building” by the Associated Press.
When fully finished, our aim is for this building to be the first of its kind – completely off the grid, surpassing LEED platinum, the highest LEED standard, and complying with the Cascadia Living Building Challenge.
Renewable Energy Sources
Our Center’s electricity comes from two sources: solar photovoltaic panels and a wind turbine.
Heating is provided by solar hot water heaters, and heating and cooling are supplemented by geothermal tubing.
Sustainable, Local Materials
Even the building materials are local, from the whole aspen trees that support the Center to the 25,000 student-made earth blocks that provide thermal mass.
The roof is a rain catchment system; the entire south wall is a greenhouse that provides solar heating as well as space for student projects.
The building is currently “grid-tied,” meaning it feeds excess energy back to the university electrical grid and draws from it in times of insufficient production. The overall energy consumption of the building, however, is negative.
In 2015, our Center actually produced 5 percent more energy than it used. According to estimates, in previous years the building may have produced much as 30 percent more energy than it used.
A Living, Growing Building
The Sustainable Living Center is a constant work in progress. We’re always searching for the newest, most effective ways to optimize its sustainability.
Ideal Energy Inc., the local, MUM-alumni-owned company that installed the building’s photovoltaic solar panels, is currently researching the feasibility of a battery-supported, off-the-grid system.
Energy Usage Stats
If you would like to view the full eMonitor report on power use versus power production at the Sustainable Living Center, click here and login using:
- USER NAME: sustaindemo
- PASSWORD: lesspower
Feel free to explore the interface. Items of special interest are the sub reports that you can access by clicking the little blue squares by the blue power production gauge. They indicate wind and solar power production levels in real time.
For tours of the building email: email@example.com