ARCHIVE: PCC, ECU Students Team Up to Construct Best ‘Sustainable Design’

Warren Building cupola on a cloudy day with "Archives" written across the top of the photo.

WINTERVILLE – April marked the culmination of a semester-long partnership between Pitt Community College and East Carolina University students who had joined efforts to compete in the N.C. Sustainable Building Design Competition.

Out of the 10 teams Pitt and ECU fielded, six moved on to the state-level competition held April 23 in Raleigh. Though none of the local teams topped the competition, which included N.C. State University and North Carolina A&T, three of them swept the Honorable Mention categories – Exceptional Computer Animation, Innovative Presentation Techniques, and Best Meeting the Needs of the Client.

This year’s competition was the second straight in which PCC Architectural Design students teamed with students from ECU’s Interior Design and Merchandising and Technology Systems programs.

Each team was asked to design a home using a sustainable approach that required them to take into consideration energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, waste reduction, use of locally available materials, and attention to the particular site’s assets.

Bill Hofler, a PCC Architectural Technology instructor who helped coordinate the collaborative effort between Pitt and ECU, said the camaraderie shown by the students.

“What we are doing is not easy,” he said. “As a matter of fact, it is quite challenging. We are bringing together students from two different institutions in pursuit of a common goal.”

Though the actual design competition began in January, voluntary evening sessions were held in October to allow students participating in the project to interact and build relationships.

To help the students get better acquainted, they were given an assignment early in the semester in which they had 10 days to design and construct a portable shelter using only cardboard and string. The structure had to allow a person to sit inside and sleep in it, and it had to be portable to the extent that it could be carried by a single individual.

“The purpose [of the assignment] was twofold,” Hofler explained. “We wanted students to understand shelter at its most basic level while allowing students to learn about teams and team building.”

The N.C. Sustainable Building Design Competition is the brainchild of Phil Mayrand, Jr. He started the contest in 2000 as a way to encourage North Carolina public university and community college students to learn and apply the lessons of economical and ecologically-sustainable development to the design and construction of buildings.

Mayrand was on hand at PCC on April 22 as the top six PCC-ECU design teams were selected to move on in the state competition held the next day.

“All of you are the spirit of sustainability,” Mayrand told the competitors. “If Mother Earth is to survive, it is your task to see her survive, and I feel she is in wonderful hands.”

Mayrand called the PCC- ECU partnership, “awesome.” He added that “irrespective of the ranking order you (students) are all winners.”

Hofler also felt the competition achieved its goals. “What we hope that our students take from the experience is an appreciation not just for sustainability but also an appreciation for what each profession has to offer,” he said. “On this point, it is my firm belief that we are succeeding.”

(Archive – 2005)