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Laying a Base for Hands-On Learning: Senior Administrators Help Put Finishing Touches on TREE House

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Several senior administrators recently spent time working with construction crews at the Hiram College TREE (Teaching, Research, and Environmental Engagement) House, now in its final stages before opening this fall.

Much progress has been made this summer, and in preparation for furniture delivery, on Aug. 6, Paul Bowers, vice president of professional and graduate studies; Bob Haak, vice president and dean; Sandy Madar, director of strategic academic initiatives; Liz Okuma, vice president and dean of students; and Pat Roberts, vice president for development and alumni relations, helped with painting and the installation of bamboo flooring in what will be one of the TREE House’s dynamic learning spaces. Bamboo was selected for its durability and renewability as a fast-growing grass.

“The house has been a buzzing hive of activity,” said Debbie Kasper, associate professor of environmental studies and project director.

liz-webThe TREE House, funded by a series of grants and private donations, will promote hands-on learning at Hiram and serve as an educational and informational resource for homeowners interested in sustainability- and efficiency-related home improvements. The project, conceived in 2011, has focused on budget-friendly sustainability renovations, as the 1901 home transforms into the environmental studies department’s energy efficient classroom and office space.

Other work done this summer has included insulation, wiring, HVAC, siding, trim, porch construction and the building of an ADA ramp in the front yard.

“We’re working hard to get the major things done before classes begin August 25,” Kasper said. “It’s definitely a challenge, but one that the team and I are up for.

She praised the team, Jim Zella, construction manager; Nate Adams, who has worked with insulation and sealing; and Scott Robinson who has worked on the exterior and trim.

“Everyone we’ve worked with has been terrific, and they’ve remained open-minded as our unconventional project took shape,” Kasper said.

Learn more about the TREE House.

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