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Work Begins on Energy-Efficient TREE House

Hiram College is taking the next steps in renovating the energy-saving TREE (Teaching, Research and Environmental Engagement) House with an initial energy analysis this week.

On Feb. 6, energy specialists Pam Pierce and Gregory Jones from Learn About Green LLC will lead a group of students and faculty through the process, which involves a blower door test, duct blaster test, thermal imaging and more. Overall, this analysis will reveal the building’s weak spots – those places where heat is escaping and energy is being wasted – and provide a baseline for understanding the energy efficiency (or inefficiency) of the house.  From there, the design team will be able to prioritize and make informed decisions about what to do first, and where to most effectively invest as they begin the renovation process.

The TREE House is an ongoing project at Hiram College, made possible by a grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation. Through energy-saving renovations to a home built in 1901, the project is designed to highlight the contrast between the sometimes costly “green homes” constructed specially for public display by contractors, and the kind of modifications that can be made by “ordinary” homeowners with limited resources.

Debbie Kasper, assistant professor of environmental studies, and one of the leaders of the TREE House project, said students in Hiram’s SEED Scholars Program are eager to get started on some “real” activity at the TREE House, and some of them will be assisting with the energy audit. The SEEDS program is new this year, and allows student scholars the chance to gain hands-on experience through exploring environmental and sustainability issues.

“It will be an ongoing process,” Kasper said, “but we plan to share our experiences and what we find through our blog and on our website.  We want anyone who is interested to be able to follow our progress and learn with us.”

Learn more about sustainability initiatives at Hiram College.

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