Green in Action Semi-Finalist
"The Pace Academy CRASH Pad"Atlanta, GA
Students in the Sustainability class researched standard construction, its effects on natural ecosystems and the steps that can be taken to reduce the effects on the environment. We looked at the design process from an environmental point of view, including the dix fundamental principles as defined by the National Institute of Building Sciences. These include site selection, energy use, water consumption, materials and products, indoor air quality, and operation and maintenance practices.
As a team, the students designed the Pace Academy Compact Roaming Autonomous Sustainable Home (also known as the CRASH Pad) and actively participated in the construction process. Students in the Sustainability course put classroom studies to practical use. They learned by doing. This hands-on approach gave them valuable experience in presentation, construction, teamwork and project management.
The CRASH Pad is a complete home packed into 144 square feet of space. When this project was approved, the school budget for the year had already been set. Therefore no money was allotted to this project. Students were asked to research materials and appliances, find the best sustainable option and write to the companies to request donations and sponsorships.
All of the materials were selected because of their sustainable features. Wood for the structure is certified to have been harvested in a responsible way. Composite siding was used because of its durability. The house features banjo flooring, low VOC exterior paints and zero toxin, all natural milk paint on the interior.
Power is provided by solar panels and a double skin of insulation ensures energy efficiency. All appliances are Energy Star approved and LED lighting is used throughout the space. A metal roof was chosen because of its durability and to also help reflect the heat of the sun. A Sola-Tube daylighting system reduces the need for electrical lights during the day. Water will be collected from the roof and we hope to add a filter system to be able to use rainwater as a potable water source. Gray water from the sinks and shower is collected to irrigate a garden. Black water and sewage hook-up is unnecessary because a compost toilet is used.
Now that the CRASH Pad is nearing completion, students not only have a finished product they can be proud of, they have a working laboratory that is a testament to their research, ideas, goals and commitments. The display home provides tangible and accessible examples of sustainable design ideas and initiatives.
A key objective of the Sustainability class is to demonstrate and promote the importance of sustainable design. During the next school year, the CRASH Pad will go on the road and students will have the opportunity to share what they have learned. Other students from Pace Academy will visit the home and learn about sustainability. We also plan to travel to other schools and local festivals with the goal of raising community awareness of sustainable practice and to demonstrate the benefits of sustainable design to both students and homeowners.