PULLMAN, Wash. Addressing the dramatic need for sustainability in building materials and design, the Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation has committed $500,000 to launch Washington State University’s Institute for Sustainable Design.
Facing increasing environmental, economic, and geopolitical challenges because of our energy consumption habits, the need for sustainable design is more critical than ever before, said Michael Wolcott, director of the new institute. Becoming sustainable means meeting our necessities in ways that can be maintained for future generations, he said.
One of the largest sustainability challenges is in the area of building design. Buildings consume almost half of the energy consumed in the United States and about three-quarters of our electricity.
“This generous commitment from the Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation will allow the Institute for Sustainable Design to begin to address this critical need,” Wolcott said. “It is a step that truly means the betterment of our future and our children’s future.”
The institute will pioneer changes in design and construction through an interdisciplinary approach involving an array of WSU specialists focusing on quality, affordability, durability, aesthetics and environmental sustainability. To make a significant reduction in the resources required to build and operate homes requires an integrated approach that considers novel building materials, design, structure, and neighborhood-level planning, while adhering to codes and standards, and appealing to aesthetic sensibilities.
The new institute will serve as a global technical and design resource for sustainable architecture and construction and will form strategic alliances with industry to advance research and education about resource efficiency and affordability. It builds on existing strengths in renewable building materials and sustainable design, particularly through the work of the Wood Materials and Engineering Laboratory (WMEL).
As one of only a few engineering schools in the U.S. that incorporates architecture studies and construction management, WSU will be a force in developing solutions for “sustainable architecture” and the promotion of “green collar jobs,” said Candis Claiborn, dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture.
Support from Weyerhaeuser will go towards undergraduate projects, several graduate student fellowships, equipment for a prototyping laboratory, a seminar series and curriculum development.
“Weyerhaeuser’s commitment will enable the Institute for Sustainable Design and WSU to advance our mission in teaching, research and outreach in the critical area of sustainability,” said Claiborn. “This is a wonderful example of how the university and industry can come together to foster economic development while also addressing one of the most significant technical, social and global issues of our time.”