Robert A. Macoskey Center

Slippery Rock University's home for hands-on sustainability education and action since 1990. The Robert A. Macoskey Center (RAMC) at SRU was created in 1990 to promote sustainability at SRU and in the local community.

The Center is located on 83 acres of the university campus and enacts its mission in three ways:

  • Education about sustainability through events, workshops and programs;
  • Physical demonstration of sustainable technologies and systems; and
  • Supporting sustainability-focused academic initiatives and research.


Harmony House

The Harmony House is a 1920's farmhouse, which functions as an office and classroom building. Renovations over the last three decades have endeavored to make the house more resource and energy efficient, as well as create more space for educational programs. The project was awarded a Silver certification in the LEED EBOM(Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance) green building rating program in 2011.

Passive Solar

The windows of the house face predominately south to take the greatest advantage of daylight and passive heating. The roof overhang is sized to allow winter sun to penetrate deep into the building, but also block the summer sun. The high thermal mass in the sunspace concrete slab absorbs the solar radiation in the winter, and aids in maintaining the indoor temperature as it slowly releases heat throughout the day. This sunspace also provides generous daylight into the house, reducing the need for electric light.

Insulation and thermal performance

The walls and roof (the building envelope) of the Harmony House are very well insulated. Having a well insulated and 'tight' building envelope means greater efficiency in terms of heating and cooling; cold air is held in during the warm months of summer, yet it is kept out in the cooler months of winter. The steel shingles on the roof of the building are also designed to reflect summer heat.


The woodstove is highly efficient. It is also non-catalytic, which means the burn chamber reaches higher temperatures that can burn more particulates, resulting in fewer emissions. The woodstove uses outside air for combustion, which doesn't deplete the oxygen in the room. The salvaged soapstone underneath and the mosaic on the wall behind the stove contribute to the thermal mass of the system.

Geothermal Heating and Cooling

The geothermal ground source heat pump uses the stable ground temperatures near the Earth's surface to help control building temperatures. Ground source heat pumps can be the most energy efficient, environmentally clean and cost-effective systems for temperature control. In winter the heat pump extracts heat from the ground (via a closed loop pipe that goes 500 feet into the ground) and transfers it inside. In summer, the heat pump extracts heat from inside and transfers it into the ground.

The ventilation in the building has a heat recovery system whereby in the wintertime, exhaust heat is used to preheat intake air.