Berea College, KY Ecological Design

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Berea College, KY, US

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Type: Policy

Status: Adopted

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Ecological design at Berea College
I see our work as an effort to make architecture relevant to the central challenge of our time: designing for change in ways that are compatible with maintaining the living systems that support all life on earth. Our work marries nature and technology. Design is the link between nature and culture.
—Sim Van der Ryn

Ecological design is the application of ecological principles to the design of sustainable technologies, buildings and communities. Working with nature instead of against, ecological design promotes dramatic increases in the efficiency of energy and water use, reduces wastes, maximizes recycling and reuse, and emphasizes the use of renewable energy sources.

Ecological design is the foundation of Berea College’s transformation to a sustainable campus- an educational facility that can meet it current needs without decreasing the ability of the world’s social, economic, and ecological systems to the needs of future generations

As part of the sustainability initiative in Berea College’s strategic plan Being and Becoming: Berea College in the 21st Century, the College is applying ecological design to:

Renovation of buildings to increase energy and water-use efficiency, while improving:

  • Comfort and functionality
  • Construction of student residences and teaching facilities
  • Campus operations including heating and lighting systems, recycling, purchasing, grounds maintenance, and sustainable management of the College farms and forest
  • Experiential education as students, staff, and faculty work together to design, construct, and live in a sustainable campus
  • Ecological design encourages the participation of all members of the community in the design process. The resulting building and landscapes are beautiful and desirable places to live and work. Nature is sustained even as the needs of people are met.
  • Experiential education- learning by doing- is the heart of Berea’s approach to teaching ecological design and sustainable living.

Students participate directly in all aspects of ecological design at Berea-planning, construction, and operations- and in so doing gain invaluable experience that complements their more traditional classroom training.

As natural processes are more visible through ecological design, people living or working on campus will receive daily lessons in sustainable living.

The Sustainability and Environmental Studies (SENS) Program offers courses and internships in ecological design. Students working for the SENS program organize workshops and demonstrations on ecological design and sustainable living for the campus and surrounding communities.