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Triple Win - Emerging Green Builders learn through Code Innovations Research

The Code Innovations Database offers students, interns and other volunteer researchers practical learning opportunities doing case study research on successfully permitted green innovations. We are now seeking academic partnerships with colleges and universities around the Puget Sound region for a new round of research with students, interns and emerging green builders beginning January 2013. If you or someone you know is involved in a program related to sustainability, green design, building science or public administration, please get in touch with us to explore the possibilities!
Triple Win - Emerging Green Builders learn through Code Innovations Research

Students work in small teams to conduct case study research

The Code Innovations Database offers students, interns and other volunteer researchers practical learning opportunities doing case study research on successfully permitted green innovations.  This has proved to be a “win” for them, for the project, and for the many code users who will tap into this resource - made possible through academic partnerships with the NW EcoBuilding Guild.

It began at the beginning - in January 2011 a team of six students from The Evergreen State College (Olympia WA) signed on with the Guild in to help design and build the database from the ground up - which was successful, obviously!  A year later, two faculty members approached us to see how we could incorporate the database into their curriculum for their undergraduate course “Ecology and the Built Environment.”

Of course we agreed!  The Guild’s Education Coordinator hired Nathaniel Kinne (one of the original team of six students who designed the database) to help train 45 students in the course how to use our case study methodology, and assign them projects to investigate.  We offered a Research Guide and two “Innovation Lab” presentations to the students, who divided into small teams to conduct the research.

A team was assigned to research permitting solutions for Seattle’s new Bullitt Center, including their commercial scale composting toilet system and the solar PV “skybridge” two features designed to help the owners achieve the “net-zero” goals of the City’s Living Building Challenge ordinance.  Another team looked into the zoning variance required to build the “GRuB Farmhouse” an environmental learning center in a residential neighborhood.  At one point, nine students met together with building officials from Olympia to go over projects they were studying - and got a valuable look at the inner workings of the permit office.

Steve Abercrombie of Paladino and Company, one of the adjunct professors teaching the class said “our students were enthusiastic about the real-world application of what they were learning in class about building codes, sustainability, design and construction.  The code research gave them a chance to learn first-hand some of the challenges and rewards of being an innovator.”

Then on Earth Day 2014, the Database was officially launched during a presentation to the International Codes Council, Rainier Chapter, and the City of Olympia joined Thurston County as a founding partner of the project.  In 2014, another team of student interns from Evergreen, Saint Martin’s University and South Puget Sound Community College worked with the City to produce another crop of excellent case studies, on Low-Impact Development (innovative stormwater management), use of recycled glass cullet as a structural fill material, the first load bearing “cob” home, and Quixote Village.

In 2014 we also employed a team of 8 graduate students from Seattle University to do a detailed market analysis and produce the Guild's strategic marketing plan for this project, still being utilized today!

Based on this productive partnership with faculty and students from Evergreen, Saint Martin's, Seattle U and others using our field tested curriculum, the Guild sees this project as an important opportunity to provide students and other emerging professionals with practical real-world learning opportunities doing case study research on successfully permitted green innovations.

Seeking new Partners
Equipped with a field-tested training curriculum, the Guild is now seeking academic partnerships with colleges and universities around the Puget Sound region, so we can continue our research with a new group of students, interns and emerging green builders during the Winter Quarter, beginning January 2013. Case study research can be tailored to many different modes of study - a class assignment, an independent learning contract (internship), volunteer project, or something else.  If you or someone you know is involved in a program related to sustainability, green design, building science or public administration, please get in touch with us to explore the possibilities!

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