GVSU showcases sustainable room

GVL/Bo Anderson

Kelley Howley

Bo Anderson

GVL/Bo Anderson Kelley Howley

Ellie Phillips

Grand Valley State University’s Sustainable Community Development Initiative has been working with the housing department to create the university’s first “Sustainability Showroom.” The showrooms are furninished, on-campus living areas that are displayed to prospective students and their families during tours of the university.

“(Housing) has been working with area stores to decorate rooms with sustainable materials similar to the following: organic bedding, towels, rugs, shower curtains, natural and personal care products, energy star electronics, CFL (Compact Florescent Lamp) bulbs and recycled material office supplies,” said Jenny Jordan, a graduate assistant with the SCDI.

The new showroom is located in South Apartment E, a LEED Gold building. Other sustainable features in the room and building include low volatile organic compound flooring, paint and cabinets, energy star appliances, Water Sense faucets and toilets, and furniture manufactured or purchased locally.

“Sustainability is a value of the university as well as our department,” said Kelley Hughes Howley, the marketing coordinator for Housing and Residence Life. “We try to be as sustainable as possible in our business decisions and actions; for example, we only buy 100 percent organic cotton or made in the USA products when possible.”

The sustainability showroom is one of a number of showrooms on campus. Four of them are in the northern housing area of campus, and two are in the southern area. These rooms are staged to look as though they are occupied, but no students actually live in them. The tours of the rooms are given throughout the school year, but their predominant use is during orientation in the summer.

The purpose of the rooms is to help students understand how to use their space, while making the housing options displayed more inviting than an empty dorm, hopefully increasing a prospective student’s desire to live on campus.

The athletics department also sponsors a thematic showroom, “Louie’s Room,” though the showrooms haven’t been permanent fixtures until recently. The university bookstore partnered with Housing in November 2011 to help integrate the new rooms, and housing has since created a system for usage and upkeep of the rooms.

The sustainable showroom will be the first ‘themed’ room hosted by Housing.

“We think making one that is sustainable will be a tangible expression for sustainability as one of our values and we can report it for the AASGE STARS report, a national standard for sustainability assessment that is done every year,” Howley said.

Bed, Bath, and Beyond reached out to GVSU to help furnish the showroom, providing all of the items free of charge. Since then, other companies have reached out to sponsor showrooms. With their help, Housing plans to continue working on the showrooms to make them positive experiences for prospective students, while reflecting the values of the housing department.
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