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Community Gathers to Dedicate the Ecovillage

Berea College held a public dedication ceremony and grand opening of the recently completed Ecovillage on Friday, May 13. The event, which was the first in a yearlong series of events focusing on different aspects of the village, celebrated the completion of the Ecovillage, recognized the donors who have helped fund its construction, and offered the public a closer look at this new feature in the Berea community.

Scenes from the Ecovillage dedication.

The event’s activities began at 5:00 p.m. with a performance by the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble. A dedication ceremony followed, featuring a performance by children from the Ecovillage’s Boyd and Gaynell Fowler Child Development Laboratory. Berea College Board of Trustees Chair Elizabeth Culbreth, Berea President Larry D. Shinn, and graduating senior Sharonda Griffin, a student resident/parent, made remarks. Following the dedication ceremony, guests toured various components of the Ecovillage, enjoyed refreshments, and watched a newly produced “eco video,” titled Living Upstream, that the College produced in conjunction with the Kentucky and U.S. Division of Energy and Rebuild America.

Located on Jefferson Street, the Berea College Ecovillage is an innovative development that demonstrates energy-reducing and environmentally friendly building techniques. As the only ecovillage in Kentucky, Berea's Ecovillage continues the College's long-standing commitment to good stewardship of natural, human, and material resources. Designed to meet extremely high ecological, social, and educational performance standards, Berea's Ecovillage addresses the well-being and education of student residents and offers a model of sustainable living to the Appalachian region as well as the wider world. The Ecovillage incorporates a wide range of "green design" elements and technologies to reduce energy and water use, including passive solar gain, photovoltaic panels, super insulation, dual flush toilets, low-flow showerheads, a composting toilet and roof-top capture of rainwater.

Components of the Ecovillage are: 32 new student-family townhouses with eco-friendly elements; an information kiosk that also demonstrates straw bale building technology; a Commons House for laundry facilities, mailboxes, kitchen, dining, study, and meeting space; an ecological machine which uses natural, non-chemical processes to treat all Ecovillage wastewater for non-potable uses; the Boyd and Gaynell Fowler Child Development Laboratory (CDL) which provides high quality child care and enhanced early education experiences for children of College students, faculty staff and the community; a Sustainability and Environmental Studies (SENS) House which is a demonstration and teaching facility where four SENS students live and work; and landscaping with fruit trees and vegetable gardens that require less water.

Performance goals for the Ecovillage include reducing energy and water use by 75%; generating electricity on-site from renewable sources; treating wastewater and storm water on-site to swimmable quality, and recycling or re-using at least 50% of its solid waste.

Throughout the coming year, Berea College will host a number of events, including conferences, lectures, and workshops, as part of the College’s “Year of the Ecovillage.” The events will be targeted to individuals and groups, such as architects, building contractors, early childhood educators and providers, environmental educators, and others interested in eco-friendly building practices, reducing energy consumption, and sustainable living practices.

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