Team Members: Jenna Kivela-Heinz (3rd year environmental eng), Robert Stewart (3rd year electrical eng), Emerald Mehler (3rd year chemical eng), Alayna Cronan (2nd year chemical eng), Conny Yang (2nd year environmental eng)
Built in 1954 by Herman Gundlach, the Sustainability Demonstration House (SDH) was donated to the university and now serves as housing for Michigan Tech students who have a passion for sustainable living. The ultimate goal of the SDH project, started in 2016, was to retrofit the house into a net-zero energy student residence.
The house has a monitoring system for both water and electricity consumption, low-flow water fixtures, energy efficient appliances and lights, a smart thermostat, and is powered in part by two solar panels located across the highway.
The tenants of the house also have a goal to be zero waste, and they monitor their waste production and are continuously finding new ways to limit the amount of waste they produce. The house currently has three composting systems for food waste, and the tenants are always coming up with creative ways to divert other waste like plastics from the landfill.
The house also has an aquaponics system and two hydroponics systems that allow the tenants to grow their own produce, and a greenhouse is currently being designed. In an effort to reach net zero energy, the house’s heating system is also currently being evaluated by the SDH team as a new project this semester.
The SDH tenants and the AEE enterprise team work in tandem to engage with the community on ecologically conscious living by showcasing the projects in the house at open houses and organizing community events like workshops and recycling initiatives. The Sustainability Demonstration House serves as an example to the campus and local community on the continuous improvement that comes with a sustainable lifestyle, hopefully inspiring others to make small but potentially impactful changes to their own lives as well.
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