Hiram’s President Thomas V. Chema said a residence near the campus would be converted into the home of the Environmental Studies Department, and will be renovated using available technology and materials to make it energy efficient and environmentally sustainable. A committee is studying a number of homes owned by the College to determine which would be best to use for the project.
“The house will be different from the new construction smart houses you may have seen recently,” Chema said. “Those usually have been million dollar demonstration projects that are supported by businesses that contribute the materials or technology, but this one will be using technology and materials that are available to ordinary families.”
The project was made possible using a portion of the funds from a $383,612 grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation. The Board of Trustees approved using $95,000 of the grant on the smart house development. The remainder will be added to Hiram’s endowment, where it will be used to establish a student scholars program, and to support an annual lecture series on significant environmental and other subjects. The College has added several environmental studies programs to its curriculum this year, as well as faculty members. Next year, plans are to offer advanced environmental studies courses as one of several ventures by the College into extended learning in conjunction with area community colleges.
Hiram College has committed to making itself as environmentally sustainable and energy efficient as possible. Last year the school installed solar panels on the roof of the Les and Kathy Coleman Sports Center, which has been generating some of the electricity needed to operate the building. Other developments are in the works, including possible development of a larger solar array that would create up to one megawatt of power, enough to power a significant portion of the College.