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UB Architecture Students Win Prize for "Green Design"

By Donna Longenecker

Release Date: April 12, 2002

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Prototypes of "modest mansions" designed by students in the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning to advance the principles of sustainable design have won a major prize from the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA).

The competition, part of the NESEA's "Building Energy 2002 Conference, was established to recognize design projects that advance the aesthetics of green building.

The student prize was awarded to Hwan Choi, Eric Dolph, Sandra Heiser, Sheng Lin and Ashish Maldikar, whose project was the culmination of a three-week charrette guided by Dennis Andrejko, professor of architecture.

Andrejko, whose research and teaching focuses on energy-conscious design with a special emphasis on cold region and passive solar design, requires students each year to design a "green home" that allows them the freedom to explore cutting-edge ideas while maintaining an emphasis on real-world limitations and usability.

He said it was important that students develop designs that could be replicated easily, so their efforts focused on the kind of housing that is common in Western New York. For their project, the students chose the Fruit Belt neighborhood near High and Carlton streets in Buffalo.

"In my classes, I try to bridge the gap between the professional posture of responsibility and the academic environment," Andrejko said, to ensure that students balance aesthetic concerns within a practical, viable housing model.

The student prototypes were designed for single-family occupancy within the City of Buffalo. Students explored such sustainable design strategies as passive and active solar heating, rainwater collection and super insulated walls, utilizing an experimental approach to building image, context and sustainable design technologies -- all of which impressed the competition's jurists.

"These impressive projects prove that green buildings, with their many health and environmental benefits, are a feasible and positive choice for future construction projects in the Northeast," said Warren Leon, NESEA executive director. "In addition to the completed buildings we reviewed, we were encouraged that students of architecture have submitted design proposals as part of a class-wide effort focused on housing. These exceptional applicants represent the next generation of environmentally responsible architects in our region."

In selecting the winners, the judges assessed various criteria, including creative integration of renewable energy and/or energy-saving features, environmental impacts of materials, construction and operation, the health of the building for occupants, the cost of construction and operation, and the extent to which the building's design and energy features could and should be replicated by others.

NESEA is a regional membership organization comprised of engineers, educators, builders, students, energy experts, environmental activists, transportation planners, architects and other citizens interested in responsible energy use. The organization's goal is to bring clean electricity, green transportation and healthy, efficient buildings into everyday use in order to strengthen the economy and improve the environment. For more information about NESEA, go to http://www.NESEA.org.