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Green Building Club Founded

Senior Civil Engineering student James Moriarty has launched a new Green Building Clubat UConn that he hopes will serve as a rallying point for students from diverse areas of study who are interested in exploring the challenges and practices of sustainable building. Jim is both founder and president of the club, which boasts about 15 members.

He is quick to note that a mixture of members will invigorate the club’s activities. “People from different disciplines approach a problem from varied vantage points and bring different skill sets that enrich our development of solutions,” he said.

The first tasks before the club membership were to lay the groundwork for formal recognition as a student chapter by the U.S. Green Building Council and to gain the University’s approval to operate as an official student organization. After developing a constitution, selecting officers, creating a website and securing donations (the club gratefully acknowledges GZA GeoEnvironmental and H.W. Lochner for their generous sponsorship) to support registration fees, the group gained formal Tier II status from UConn in September. In addition to Jim, the club’s officers are Secretary Chris Berthiaume and Treasurer Thomas Thorndike. Dr. Mike Accorsi of Civil & Environmental Engineering advises the group.

The UConn Green Building Club meets weekly, and a variety of activities are planned for members, including hands-on projects, research opportunities, seminars and outreach. Besides bringing in two speakers each semester — who will discuss their experiences in the sustainable building arena — the organization plans to participate in a design competition at the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association’s (NESEA) annual conference in March.

The club is in the process of creating two teams that will participate in the competition involving the redesign of the now-defunct Frank Jones Brewery in Portsmouth, NH. The teams will focus on plans for converting one of the brewery’s large 19th century buildings and design of a new annex. Competitors will develop designs that conserve and optimize the use of water, energy, waste disposal and wastewater; and which integrate food production, material selection, site characteristics, historical value and aesthetics. In addition to detailed plans and designs for renovating the space, the teams will also produce either computer-based 3D designs or 3D scale models depicting their entries.

The idea for the Green Building Club emerged from Jim’s involvement in various national organizations and conferences. He said, “As a student, I have become involved in the green building field, attending multiple green building professionals’ conferences and workshops, and that is something more students should be able to experience.” Read more about Jim here.

In the coming year, the officers hope to make the club a self-sustaining entity and to engage students from a broader spectrum of disciplines outside of engineering — such as business, landscape architecture, environmental science, natural resources and economics — who bring fresh ideas and will help foster a more holistic perspective on sustainable building design and construction.

To learn more about the club, or to donate toward the group’s activities, please e-mailuconngreenbuildingclub@gmail.com.