Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 50.04
Liaison Rebecca Collins
Submission Date Feb. 21, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Temple University
IN-24: Innovation A

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Katherine Switala-Elmhurst
Program Manager
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Temple Tiny House

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

Project Overview: The Temple University Tiny House project is a student designed and student constructed sustainable building located at Temple Community Garden on main campus. Completed in spring 2017, the 175 square foot net-zero structure features a high performance thermal envelope construction, vegetated roof, rainwater harvesting, off-grid photovoltaic system, a thermal energy collection system and a composting toilet. Since its inception in June 2014, the project has offered interdisciplinary learning opportunities for students and faculty. The Temple Tiny House serves as a food access programming space for the Temple Community Garden and a university sustainability demonstration project. The project is registered under the Living Building Challenge.

Project Background: Temple University’s Climate Action Plan outlined an academic goal of fostering interdisciplinary collaboration on sustainability. While the university had made significant strides on advancing interdisciplinary degree programs for students, faculty members and students still desired opportunities for interdisciplinary engagement within course structures, projects and research. The Office of Sustainability convened a diverse group of faculty members engaged in sustainability within their disciplines to explore collaborative, interdisciplinary learning opportunities. After several meetings, the faculty group recommended undertaking a small pilot project to help gauge interest and inform a process for larger projects.

Advised by the faculty group, the university hosted a one-day student design charrette, during which 35 students from 18 different disciplines participated in a sustainable design challenge. The objective of the competition was to design a sustainable tiny house that would be sited at Temple Community Garden, a student-run, urban garden. Each interdisciplinary team consisted of five students. Temple Community Garden representatives, faculty and staff members served as mentors and experts, and were available during the charrette to address questions. The winning design was selected by a jury who included the Executive Director of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, the Director of the Philadelphia Office of Sustainability and two Temple University representatives.

The success of the design charrette led to the exploration of creating an interdisciplinary, design-build course to further develop the winning tiny house design. In spring 2016, an interdisciplinary Architecture course was developed to take the winning conceptual design from the January 2015 charrette through to construction documentation. The design of the tiny house would incorporate a net-zero energy structure with an emphasis on the use of sustainable materials and systems. A build course was held during the summer session. The design-build course was supported by an Engineering Senior Design team who designed the engineering systems for the building. Students from the School of Media and Communication documented the project from the design charrette through to final construction and dedication event.

The main goals of the project were to create the following:
1. Interdisciplinary academic learning opportunities;
2. A small-scale sustainable showpiece for the university that allows for direct interaction with the building and its systems;
3. Sustainable systems demonstration opportunities;
4. Opportunity to pilot cutting edge sustainable technologies to examine how they could be used on a larger scale; and,
5. Co-Curricular and community engagement opportunities.

Project Implementation: Designed as an interdisciplinary project, the Temple Tiny House proved to be one of the most collaborative projects on campus, and involved the participation of a diverse group of faculty members, students, and administrative staff from around the university. The university’s Office of Sustainability served as the primary funder and project manager for the Temple Tiny House, coordinating the involvement of faculty and students from courses across schools, colleges and departments. To maximize a reliable and committed team, the Office of Sustainability worked with the Tyler School of Art’s Division of Architecture and Environmental Design and the College of Engineering to create for-credit courses related to the project. These courses, developed using an existing academic course structure, provided the skeleton of the project’s timeline and delineated milestones for completion. The Architecture Department agreed to offer a Special Topics course in spring 2016 and Summer Session II, with the spring coursed focused on design and the summer course focused on construction. Both courses were open to the entire university community, and managed to draw students from other disciplines to the class. The students in the Architecture courses were supported by students from the College of Engineering as part of their year-long Senior Design Project. The engineering students served as consultants on the project, designing the systems during the spring 2016 semester, working with solar and green roof consultants during the summer, and completing monitoring of building performance in the fall 2016 semester. The Landscape Architecture Department offered a studio course that challenged students to develop a plan and planting schedule for the site during the fall 2016 semester, and enlisted a service based learning general education course to provide additional construction labor in fall 2016. The School of Media and Communication dedicated a student to document the project and create update pieces throughout the course of the project. While much of the project was completed through the course structure, the Temple Tiny House project received significant university support from the Office of Facilities Management, the Project Delivery Group (Capital Projects), and Service Operations. The departments donated time, expertise and product to the project. Temple Community Garden, a student organization, assisted in the space’s programmatic development, served as the client to the various courses, assisted in recruiting volunteers, and assumed responsibility and maintenance of the completed project. The Office of Sustainability and Temple Community Garden co-hosted a Tiny House Warming Party and Tiny Ribbon Cutting in April 2017. The project continued with the implementation of the site plan and planting during fall 2017. In addition, the project is pursuing green building certification and became the first project registered in Philadelphia under the Living Building Challenge. Two architecture student interns and one engineering student intern will complete the required documentation for the challenge during the 2017-2018 academic year under the guidance of the Office of Sustainability.

Financing: The majority of costs for the Temple Tiny House project consisted of building materials. These costs were funded through the university’s sustainability allocation in its plant development fund. Reductions in material costs were made possible by internal and external material donations. In addition, the photovoltaic system and green roof were provided at a reduced cost through a partnership between Temple University and two local companies who worked with engineering students to design and install the systems. There were minimal labor costs for the project as the majority of the project was completed through the Department of Architecture and College of Engineering course credit structure and volunteer efforts. Project programming, including design charrettes, was funded by the Office of Sustainability. The Temple Community Garden will provide and fund ongoing maintenance to the structure under the guidance of the Office of Sustainability.

Project Results:
1. Interdisciplinary academic learning opportunities: The phasing of the Temple Tiny House project offered many academic opportunities, including:
• Interdisciplinary faculty group collaboration;
• One-day interdisciplinary student design charrette resulting in a tiny house conceptual design;
• Two semester-long interdisciplinary courses through the Department of Architecture;
• College of Engineering Senior Design project, including building systems design, construction and monitoring;
• Hands-on learning, including a green roof installation workshop and volunteer work days;
• One-day Landscape Architecture site design charrette to develop a conceptual site design;
• Landscape Architecture studio course to develop a plan and planting schedule for the site;
• Media video coverage and documentation through the School of Media and Communication; and,
• Project collaboration and partnerships between various academic departments and university operations.

2. A small-scale sustainable showpiece for the university that allows for direct interaction with the building and its systems: The scale of the Temple Tiny House fosters learning opportunities not possible from larger projects or buildings by allowing visitors direct visual access to building components, such as:
• Vegetated roof for stormwater management;
• Rainwater harvesting using rain barrels;
• Cool roof to mitigate urban heat island effect;
• Composting toilet;
• Off-grid solar photovoltaic array with salt water battery storage;
• Passive solar closet for building heating;
• Natural ventilation for building cooling;
• High performance thermal envelope construction for interior temperature modulation;
• Use of sustainable materials and finishes, such as exterior cork siding;
• Use of recycled materials, such as roofing slate floor tiles, furnishings and roofing materials; and,
• LED lighting fixtures.

3. Sustainable systems demonstration opportunities: The Tiny House will be used as a demonstration project that will highlight sustainable building and site features. The net-zero structure can inform the dialog about energy production, consumption and water management and will demonstrate how systems work on a small scale.

4. Opportunity to pilot cutting edge sustainable technologies to examine how they could be used on a larger scale: Two specific technologies include the following:

Solar Closet: The building is heated by a passive solar closet system. The closet consists of four, 30-gallon barrels filled with water that are separated from the interior space by a wall. The water is heated throughout the day by direct solar radiation that passes through a triple-pane window. At night, or during cool periods, heat is conducted from the water within the thermal closet to the interior space to maintain design temperature conditions between 40°F and 85°F. This system was designed to keep the interior environment above freezing during the winter to protect the photovoltaic system batteries and to allow a space for the Temple Community Garden to grow seedlings.

Photovoltaic System Batteries: The building is powered by an off-grid solar system. Power is stored utilizing saltwater battery technology. Saltwater batteries do not contain heavy metals or toxic chemicals, are non-flammable and non-explosive and typically outperform traditional batteries.

5. Co-Curricular and community engagement opportunities: The Temple Tiny House will be used by the Temple Community Garden student organization for workshops, demonstrations, meetings and as a mini greenhouse. The building offers Temple Community Garden the opportunity to expand their programming to the neighboring North Philadelphia community by offering on-site workshops and demonstrations on food access, urban gardening and food preparation. The Temple Community Garden held its inaugural event in April 2017 with a workshop on growing and preparing your own food.

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Food & Dining

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :

The website URL where information about the innovation is available :
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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