(Posted September 27, 2010)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- On college campuses across the nation, groups of students come together to live together in "themed housing" such as international dorms, abstinence houses and non-drinking houses. Juniata College has a few of these theme houses available for students, but the latest addition, everGREEN Eco-House, is bringing together environmentally conscious students to live lightly on the planet.

"The coolest part of this project is that we are working with the college to help renovate the house to make it green," explains Bridget Gross, a senior from Malvern, Pa. studying environmental science, who has been living in the college-owned house at 1610 Moore Street since May.

"The coolest part of this project is that we are working with the college to help renovate the house to make it green."

Bridget Gross, senior, Malvern, Pa.

Gross has been leading the effort to establish the Eco-House and there now are four male students and four female students living in the house. All the residents are determined to live as environmentally friendly as possible while carefully working with the college to make the older home more energy efficient and sustainable over time.

"Juniata is a sustainable school and I came to the college on a full scholarship for environmental awareness, so I wanted to start a project to put Juniata at the forefront of environmental change," Gross says.

The students living in the house moved in Aug. 23, after applying to become part of the project. The other students living in EcoHouse are: Sean Farley, a sophomore from Philadelphia; John Kyle Apostolides, a sophomore from Pittsburgh; Maxwell Martin, a sophomore from Wilmington, Mass.; James Dulaney, a sophomore from Towanda, Pa.; Elly Engle, a junior from Millheim, Pa.; Anna Henzy, a sophomore from East Falls, Pa.; and Hannah Conner, a sophomore from Newtown, Pa.

So far, the students have started several "green" projects, including constructing a patio made with recycled bricks to store bicycles, planting two 12-by-12 foot gardens on the property and installing a rain barrel donated by the Huntingdon Planning Commission that the students will use to water the garden.

In the coming months the group will also install a cold frame greenhouse. They also buy all food for the house locally at such outlets as Brenneman's Meat Market and several organic farm markets.

"As the Eco-House continues, students each year will get to propose and complete projects that are environmentally friendly," says Gross. "Over time the students living here will be able to see change and see how their environmental footprint affects the planetâ?"you just can't do that living in a dorm."

Each of the students living in the house ride bicycles, recycle and Gross recently obtained two donated composters. "We throw in food, greens, paper towels, even hair after we get our hair cut," Gross says.

Extra hair aside, the students are buying into the house's mission. On Sept. 17 four of the students will attend the Pennsylvania Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Festival in Kempton, Pa. and meet to propose further sustainability improvements for the Eco-House. Gross says the students have scheduled several meetings with Juniata's facilities staff and the Office of Residential Life to plan out incremental additions and projects for the theme house.

The students are currently studying grant opportunities for solar energy, investigating gray water recycling and raising money to pay for an energy audit.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.