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Technology Guides Environmental Mission at Raystown Field Station

(Posted October 13, 2003)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Don?t let the rustic and plain design motifs of the Shuster Hall building fool you. Inside those cypress-covered walls is a completely ?wired? environment that not only controls much of the building?s environmentally friendly monitoring technology, but also allows students to remain connected to every technological tool and program they might need.

The station?s new multipurpose building, Shuster Hall, is intended to function as a teaching and learning tool for the college?s state-of-the-art environmental monitoring system.

Shuster Hall, as well as the two residential halls and a classroom laboratory that will be part of the field station?s Lakeside Center complex, will be part of Juniata?s science curriculum, providing experiential learning in natural resource consumption, environmental studies and habitat management.

Each building in the complex will be designed for sustainability and energy-efficiency, making living within the complex a living lesson in resource management. "The value of our facility is that it will provide students direct feedback on the consequences of how they consume resources and affect the environment," explains Chuck Yohn, director of the Raystown Field Station. "We hope that the lessons of sustainability learned at the station will spread back to campus when the students return from their semester in the field."

Yohn also points out that the field station will complement Juniata?s other research programs and increase teaching opportunities for current faculty, while acting as a superb recruitment tool for faculty and students. "What we can offer as an educational experience further builds our reputation as a top science program," he says. "Which in turn gives the college the opportunity to build a superb environmental studies program in a one-of-a-kind laboratory."

Some of the technological and environmentally friendly highlights that have been built into the design of Shuster Hall include:

--The station is outfitted with a satellite dish that enables residents at the station to access the computer resources at almost any time at the Juniata campus in Huntingdon.

--A wireless computer communication network that would enable students to take laptops outside or out to isolated research areas and still have the capability to access e-mail, the Internet and the college?s educational resources. ?They will be able to use their computers while on a boat out on the lake if they need to,? Yohn says.

--All restrooms will have water-saving urinals and composting toilets.

--The building features energy saving compact fluorescent lights and the building is designed and situated on the site to gain 60 percent of its lighting needs from the sun.

--Energy used by the field station will be paid for by credits from an energy company that uses wind-powered energy generation.

--Environmental sensors and monitoring equipment that will allow students and faculty to assess and monitor temperature, soil conditions, weather conditions and water quality outside the facility. The multipurpose building also will be designed for sustainability and energy-efficiency. Students and faculty will be able to monitor water usage, energy consumption and other environmental data within the building.

--Environmentally ?green? appliances that will be compatible with the building?s energy consumption/monitoring system.

--The cypress siding and maple flooring for Shuster Hall are obtained from regionally grown forests.

--Materials used in the construction of the building have been largely re-used or recycled. The concrete floors are mixed with fly ash residue from power plants, some classroom cabinetry was re-used from the college?s Brumbaugh Science Center, the paint is recycled and the deck is made of a composite wood-and-recycled plastic material. The building?s fireplace was constructed of stone from a historic mill that had been torn down to make room for a highway project.

"The improvements for the field station will allow Juniata to revolutionize its educational mission and improve our outreach to our surrounding community by using a resource that is truly unique in the nation," says Tom Kepple, president of Juniata. "Students who live on-site in a highly energy-efficient residence hall to study the environment and surrounding habitat year-round can see and experience how their behavior and habits affect the environment and the world."

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.