Friday, August 9, 2013

New Faculty Tour: Sustainable Living

Written by Tessa Andrews, assistant professor of biological sciences in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Our first stop on Thursday morning was the Future Farmhouse on the UGA-Tifton campus. The Future Farmhouse is a development and research program, where developers are building a zero-energy house, or a house that will create as much or more energy than it will consume. The primary, and maybe only, source of energy will come from the sun. The roof is covered with thin solar panels and an additional bank of panels will sit in a field near the house. The house is built with three different materials and sensors are embedded in the walls so that the energy waste can be assessed. Sensors have also been deployed around the farm. Researchers will be able to use the data gathered for research purposes, as well as contributing to our knowledge about integrated personal data gathering systems.

Once it is finished, two lucky graduate students will get to live in the house and they will be charged with the responsibility of maintaining the ongoing research projects. The project also extends beyond the house; the group is designing an edible landscape to surround the house. What they learn through this project will be made available more broadly through peer-reviewed publications, cooperative extension and the retailers who have contributed materials and supplies to the project. The project is an excellent example of the function of a land-grant university; it integrates the efforts and expertise of the university with the needs, efforts and knowledge of businesses and citizens of Georgia.

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