Tyson's Living Learning Center wins "oops award" from AASHE

Oct 10, 2011

WUSTL wins award for case study of Living Learning Center

Award recognizes honest disclosure of lessons learned in constructing a building that required zero net-energy input

The Living Learning Center at WUSTL’s Tyson Research Center has been certified as a “living building,” one that requires no more energy than it produces, requires no more water than it captures, and produces no waste, but it needed a bit of coaxing to get there.

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) named Washington University in St. Louis as the winner of its “Best Lessons Learned Case Study Award” Oct. 11 during the AASHE 2011 Conference in Pittsburgh.

The award was for the case study, “Getting to Net-Zero: Lessons Learned from a Living Building Challenge,” which outlined “the mistakes, corrections, and lessons learned that ultimately led to successful certification” of WUSTL’s Living Learning Center at Tyson Research Center as one of the first net zero energy “living buildings.”

Kevin G. Smith, associate director of the Tyson Research Center a 2,000-acre environmental research station located 20 miles west of the university’s Danforth campus, and adjunct professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, accepted the award durring AASHE’s Sustainability Awards reception.

“AASHE is proud to honor Washington University with this award, affectionately referred to as the ‘oops award,’” says Paul Rowland, executive director of AASHE. “The award recognizes the best case study of a project that didn’t go as planned and that offers important lessons for others.”

“Oftentimes, stories of projects that don’t go as planned can be really helpful, but campuses can be hesitant to tell such stories,” Rowland says. “Campuses willing to go out on a limb to try something new deserve credit for trying and are doing the rest of the field a favor.”

AASHE is an association of colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada that are working to create a sustainable future. Its mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation by providing resources, professional development and a network of professional support.

The winners of AASHE’s 2011 Sustainability Awards will be featured in the December issue of Sustainability: The Journal of Record.

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