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 SRU dedicates renovated Harmony House environmental center 




April 19, 2010
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SRU dedicates renovated Harmony House environmental center


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - A $250,000 renovation of the Harmony House at Slippery Rock University's Robert N. Macoskey Center for Sustainability Education and Research will be dedicated Saturday. The center has received a new entrance, pop-up roof, twice the classroom space, a "green kitchen" and a geothermal heat and cooling system.

            The facility will be dedicated at 11 a.m., followed by tours throughout the afternoon.
            SRU, a leader in sustainability education for 20 years, expanded the facility to increase energy efficiency and provide more educational opportunities for students and residents who want to implement sustainability at home, said Thomas Reynolds, center director.
            "Sustainability is not a new thing for SRU; we have a lot of experience in these arenas," Reynolds said. "The expansion will allow us to present more programs that we have been unable to present and it will be provide more opportunities for students to get involved in projects and make changes to the center in the future. That is the point of what we do."
             The biggest change is the new entrance and pop-up roof that added enough space and day lighting for upstairs offices, Reynolds said. The entrance facing Harmony Road has been closed. A covered porch entrance with a roof that slops downward as a wind-breaking element was installed on the north side of the house, facing the barn. The porch beams were salvaged from a construction site in Ohio.

              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 envelope," Reynolds said. "Having a greater envelope 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 main floor was expanded to accommodate a class size of 30 people. The kitchen has been equipped with energy-efficient appliances and countertops constructed from smart woods and post-consumer recycled paper.

             Reynolds said the renovation meets federal standards for green design.

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

                        Harmony House anchors SRU's 83-acre Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Education and Research.  Macoskey, an SRU professor of philosophy who died in 1990, conceived the Harmony House. The property supports SRU's master's degree in sustainable systems and includes a greenhouse, orchards, vegetable plots, a compost toilet and a wind turbine and solar energy system that produce clean electricity.
            "The renovation boosts the house's thermal performance, demonstrates affordable green building design and maximizes natural resources such as the sun," Reynolds said.


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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