Applications open for high-performance building summer camp for college students


By Ashley J. WennersHerron

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Applications are open for the inaugural High-Performance Building Summer Camp, an intensive three-week program that introduces participants to the design and construction principles of more sustainable, more efficient and healthier buildings. The day camp will take place from May 31 through June 17 in Pittsburgh, a city classified as a United Nations International Center of Excellence on High-Performance Building. The camp is open to all first- and second-year undergraduate students interested in buildings and their performance.  

The camp is a joint initiative by the Penn State-led Global Building Network, Penn State Center Pittsburgh, Northern Ireland’s South West College and Pittsburgh’s Green Building Alliance. South West College, also a United Nations International Center of Excellence on High-Performance Building, is coordinating the participation of students from the United Kingdom, who will comprise about half the cohort.  

“Together with two International Centers of Excellence and a Penn State Outreach urban center, the GBN is launching this inaugural educational program to introduce students to how the fundamental principles of high-performance buildings are applied in various contexts,” said Esther Obonyo, executive director of GBN and associate professor of engineering design and architectural engineering. “A key objective of the GBN is to train the next generation of built environment professionals — what better way to do that than in a city actively working to distill and apply best practices for high-performance built environments?”  

To further emphasize the global thinking for local action, the course instructors will primarily be internationally designated Certified Passive House Consultants from Northern Ireland. They are experts in the concept of passive building, which focuses on creating ultra-airtight, super insulated buildings paired with balanced ventilation systems to achieve superior energy efficiency and user comfort, as well as contribute to positive outcomes with respect to health, well-being, and prosperity. Sarah Klinetob Lowe, operations director for GBN and a North American-designated Certified Passive House Consultant, will also contribute as an instructor, adapting lessons from the passive house course she teaches at Penn State. 

In addition to seminars, students will meet with industry representatives and collaborate on table-top models of various construction methods. They will also visit buildings that have received high-performance certifications.  

“Participants will have the opportunity to gain a first-hand understanding of both general high performance in buildings and how that is applied in the context of Pittsburgh’s climate, culture, history and geography,” Klinetob Lowe said. “Buildings in Pittsburgh and Ireland look different, but the core fundamentals of how to design and construct high-performance buildings are applicable everywhere, in culturally and contextually appropriate ways.”  

Participants do not need to have training in this area, according to Klinetob Lowe, but should come equipped with interest in buildings, their performance and cross-cultural exchanges of knowledge and applications.  

“Our hope is this program will further engage students interested in this area and provide them the context and connections to continue pursuing an education and an eventual career contributing to a sustainable and healthier built environment,” Klinetob Lowe said.  

More information about the High-Performance Building Summer Camp, including the application and fees, is available here. Space is limited, and applications are due on April 11.  


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