Macalester College
Macalester College EcoHouse


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Macalester College
EcoHouse

St. Paul, MN 55105
Comments & questions to:
ecohouse@macalester.edu

Student Projects

    

Conversations with Farmers by Carly Avezzano '16, Analuna Brambila '16, Julia Gay '16, and Molly Sowash '16, Spring 2014 - Everyone eats.  We all must consume food every day; it is one of the only truly universal aspects of living in this vast and diverse world.  However, we believe that people do not think enough about their food and the faces and stories behind it, so we set out to do some exploring to uncover those stories.  This led us to the idea of an interview anthology.   We contacted various farmers in the Twin Cities area and many graciously and excitedly agreed to participate in our project.  We spent months driving out to farms and conducting interviews, hearing wondrous stories, and getting to know people we never would have met without this project.   We asked each farmer to share about their experiences and beliefs, and we also asked them to share some pictures of their farms, which we have included in this.

Macalester EcoHouse Discussion Guide by Karen Weldon '14, January 2013 - This reading guide is divided into ten units—ranging in topics from communal living to water to the critiques of sustainable living—this guide provides short articles and projects that have been picked for interest, length, and relevance for those living in the house. Although the guide is geared specifically towards residents of the Macalester EcoHouse, many of the readings would be of interest to members of other sustainability and environmental houses, especially those in the Twin Cities and Minnesota. Some projects are season specific—like winterizing and food preservation— but most of the units can be read in any order throughout a semester or year.

Sustainable Food Procurement at the Macalester EcoHouse by Karen Weldon '14 and Marian Michaels '15, Fall 2012 - Over a two month period, Weldon and Michaels analyzed all household food purchases and rated them based on sustainability. The authors followed guidelines set by the Real Food Challenge, a national organization that promotes ecologically sound, fair, humane, and community-based food on college campuses. Weldon and Michaels found that sustainable food purchasing is feasible on a college budget. Spending 25-50 percent less than average household budgets for four, the EcoHouse residents bought vegetarian, allergy-friendly whole foods from farmer’s markets and co-ops. However, Weldon and Michaels concluded that while the residents saved money, they invested much time in cooking and food preparation. The authors also discuss inequalities in the food system, analyze the shortfalls of the Real Food Challenge’s guidelines, recommend brands and foods, and reflect on the challenges and benefits of eating sustainably.

EcoHouse Zero Waste by Camille Erickson '14, Spring 2012 - Camille Erickson sorted and weighed all the waste and recycling produced at the EcoHouse during the Spring Semester 2012 to heighten awareness and create sustainable habits around waste reduction in the house.  Throughout the study, the residents sought to reduce waste going to a landfill by recycling, reusing, or composting.  By tracking the trash produced in the house qualitatively and quantitatively each week, this study tracked the progress and challenges of waste reduction. She found that an average of 13% of the total amount of recyclables and waste was sent to the landfill and an average amount of 0.29 pounds of waste/recyclables was produced by each person living in the house per day (4.21 pounds less than the national average). The project also includes recommendations for future waste projects and resources for college students to make reducing their waste easier.

Energy Efficiency:  Energy Use of the EcoHouse by Ben Francis, January 2011 - The goal of this project was to determine how much energy the Eco> House saves. To do this I analyzed the energy use of the Eco House over the past three years. I also used data from the Japanese House in an attempt to establish a base case. Analysis was broken into the two types of energy, natural gas and electricity. I found that the Eco House uses 57% of the natural gas that the Japanese House uses. Because the two houses are not identical it is impossible to determine exactly how much natural gas the retro fit of the Eco House saved. When analyzing electricity I was unable to create a statistically significant model. This is because the majority of electricity use depends on user habits. The electricity use of the Eco House appears to be lower, but this may simply be because the residents are more concerned with saving energy. It is impossible to know how much electricity the retro fitting of the Eco House saved without comparing each individual appliance.

Fostering Sustainability in the Kitchen:  A Mac-Groveland Guide to Conscious Communal Eating by Zoe Hastings, October 2010 - This semester, I have been researching various types of foods (local, organic, etc) and preservation techniques while applying this information directly to the communal living situation at the EcoHouse.  Through community efforts, we have learned a lot about eating sustainably while maintaining a modest student budget.  This guide provides a general overview of strategies and resources for fostering sustainability through the creation of a food conscious community.  By consciously thinking about our food, we have started to acknowledge the food system to which we are naturally a part.  Thinking about these systems, we have been able to assess the ecological and social implications of our food choices, an important step towards finding the balance that is sustainability.

School Curriculum by Annie Pasbrig, Fall 2008 - During the Fall 2008 semester, Annie developed educational materials for middle school and elementary school age children for use during visits to the Macalester campus.

Energy Monitoring System by David Schmoeller, Fall 2008 - During the Fall 2008 semester, David worked with outside companies in order to get an energy monitoring system installed in the Ecohouse.  Currently, he is working closely with Trane - the company who provides energy monitoring for the campus center and other areas on campus – to get something finalized.  Ideally, the information gained from such a system would provide helpful feedback to current and future residents about how their behaviors effect energy consumption.  Furthermore, the data could provide a useful tool for classrooms and other community members to see what habits are most effective in living sustainably.

 


Macalester College · 1600 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105  USA · 651-696-6000
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