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Rewarding green alternatives

Education: COC students team up to take first place at regional competition aimed at creating sustai

Posted: July 1, 2010 6:26 p.m.
Updated: July 2, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Clockwise from top, Team Avant Verdant members Jorge Cea, Charlyn Bjerg, Eric Wagner and Jolene Lain created and designed an energy and transit system for College of the Canyons Valencia campus.

If it were up to five College of the Canyons students, they would build a sky tram that would transport students around their Valencia campus, install solar tents that would power electric cars and generate electricity for the parking lot and give students a way to rent motorized bikes on campus.

It may seem far-fetched, but the five architecture students recently took home first place during the “Buildable Visions: Sustainability Innovations in the Built Environments of Campuses and Their Communities” competition.

The contest brought together students from community colleges, the University of California and California State University systems who were tasked with figuring out ways to reduce traffic and further green technology on their campuses.

“Sustainability is how the human race can sustain on the planet,” said team member Charlyn Bjerg, 40. “There’s really no alternative, and we don’t have a lot of time.”

The COC students plan to bring their project to COC’s trustees in September with the hope that it might one day be built.

The students spent two months putting together their project, which required them to use 3-D models, conceptual designs and detailed plans of their vision.

Using the existing College of the Canyons’ Valencia campus as a model, the students envision installing a “Sky Path,” or an elevated tram system, which would pick up students from one part of the campus and drop them off at another.

Students would no longer have to drive from parking lot to parking lot.

“This would be a way for people to come to campus and circulate without using private automobiles,” said Jason Oliver, the faculty adviser for the project.

The team wanted to have as little an impact on the 40-year-old community college as possible and focused on sustainable solar- or wind-powered energy sources.

“It’s meant to be integrated with the rest of the community,” said team leader Jolene Lain, 29.

Solar tents would be added to existing parking lots as a way to provide shade, run streetlights and give electric cars a way to power up.

Bus stops scattered around campus would be built with bike racks. Similar to a library-card system, students would be able to swipe a card and rent a motorized bicycle to get around campus.

The project comes at a time when sustainability and green technology are being integrated with planning and architecture, Oliver said. “They really latch on and bring a lot of personal interest to it,” Oliver said.

And the project helps the students earn a practical appreciation for their educational efforts.

“We want to be responsible as designers,” Lain said.



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