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 SRU brings harmony to sustainability center renovation 



Oct. 17, 2008
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:


SRU brings harmony to sustainability center renovation 


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - A $250,000 renovation of the Harmony House at Slippery Rock University is under way. The center for sustainability education and research will receive a classroom, upstairs offices, geothermal heating/cooling and a covered-porch entrance designed to buffer wind and increase energy efficiency, among other improvements.

            "The renovation will boost the house's thermal performance, demonstrate affordable green building design and maximize natural resources such as the sun," said Thomas Reynolds, director of SRU's Robert A. Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Education and Research.  "We're going to do a lot of the work ourselves."

            Harmony House anchors SRU's 83-acre Macoskey Center and serves as a hub for the University's master of science in sustainable systems program.

            Many small-scale demolition projects have already begun at the facility. The major construction is scheduled to begin next spring, Reynolds said.

            "It's a very exciting renovation that is being done. Although the house is great now, it doesn't really meet all of our needs," said Sara Beatty, a parks and recreation graduate student from Delaware and Macoskey Center community outreach assistant. "We will have more space for workshops, meetings and classes. It will be completely different. We're going to end up having a reception area and the kitchen's going to be more sealed off."

            The biggest change will involve constructing a new entrance and adding a pop-up roof with enough space and day lighting to add upstairs offices, Reynolds said. The existing entrance facing Harmony Road will be closed. A covered porch entrance with a roof that slops downward as a wind-breaking element will be installed on the north side of the house, facing the barn. 

            The classroom will accommodate 30 students, Reynolds said. A new roof, improved floor systems and more storage space are among the improvements.

            "New roofing, the new entryway and improved insulation are all part of the building's envelop," Reynolds said. "Having a greater envelop means greater efficiency in terms of heating and cooling. We'll also be planting trees to shade the house in summer and keep the curtains closed during sunny days to block the sun's heat."

            The late Robert A. Macokey, an SRU professor of philosophy, conceived of the Harmony House and center before his 1990 death. The property includes a greenhouse with roof-top planter boxes, orchards, vegetable plots, a compost toilet and a wind and solar energy system that produce clean electricity.

            Reynolds said the renovation would meet federal standards for green design.

            "Buildings can have a high impact on the environment, and they produce waste," Reynolds said. "We are working with LEED certified architects to assure that the renovation uses only recycled materials and meets the most stringent federal guidelines for sustainable development. We're getting more and more students involve out and we need more space for them."


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.








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