Publication Date



Christian Ryan Office Of Sustainability Coordinator


The Office of Sustainability has occupied the house at 503 Regents for approximately four months. The space is used to house the Big Red Bikes mechanic shop and program, and other programs and activities. Eight students work in the Office of Sustainability in various roles including bike mechanic, student assistant, four PowerSave Interns, a student “handy-man” who works on various physical improvements, and a student that is completing his Honors Thesis on the project.

Much of the past four months have been spent setting up the bike shop, painting, installation of walkway and way finding sign, and otherwise improving the interior aesthetics, and developing a project plan and budget, outlined below.

The first order of business is to collect baseline data on the house in its current condition. Thermal imaging and a blower door test will be conducted by Faculty member Bob Choate and his engineering students in the month of February. The results will provide measurable baseline data that can be compared to results of the same test after project completion. The thermal images and door blower test results and photos will be used in educational and publicity materials. As soon as internet is installed, a Smart meter will be installed to collect utility usage data.

Internet and phone connection

Status – in process

Internet and phone connection, or lack thereof, have been a source of frustration since occupying our new space, however we are making do and, having found solutions to several of the challenges, expect internet and phone service within two weeks. WKU IT provided quote for approximately $20,000 for this installation, but Facilities Management was able to conduct some of the work to bring the cost down to approximately $11,500. Charlie Jones has offered to fund this project through the Department of Facilities Management as infrastructure improvement. The IT department also provided funding support for the project.

“Smart” meter installation Status –

pending internet connectivity A meter for 503 Regents must provide the following functions: ability to interface with Metasys to display real-time use on JCI Kiosk dashboard, ability to provide high-resolution data on energy and water use, ability to read and communicate solar energy production from photovoltaic panels. This meter will be similar in type to the meters currently used in campus buildings and can be provided by WKU Energy Management. The meter must be installed by an electrician. Although the appropriate meter has been identified and is available, it is non-functional without a hard-wired internet connection. In the meantime, I am receiving monthly utility usage data from BGMU. Estimated cost: $3000 (Funding provided by Dr. Baylis)

Insulation Status –

plan complete, quote obtained Insulation consulting was provided by 31W, a local and alumni owned company. Insulation will be blown into exterior walls, placed into attic (currently R-13 to be increased to R-50 as suggested by EPA), and foam insulation will be applied to basement interior. The insulation used will be fiberglass with 25% recycled glass and less chemical than existing cellulose insulation. The cellulose insulation is highly chemically treated, and has a propensity to settling. A cutaway will be installed in the wall to show the before and after applications of the insulation, with Plexiglas covering and informational signage. Cost: $2129


Status – Capital Window and Door providing windows and installation at net cost of $1000. (Donation value $11000 (est))

Window consulting was provided by Capital Window and Door, a local and alumni owned company. All windows in the house will be replaced with double-paned, low E windows that have a plant-based internal support structure. All windows will be replicates of existing windows. There is a spectrum of windows available on the market, and we are working with manufacturers in Indiana to develop a demonstration plan. The back room of the house (conference room) contains 14 windows. We would like to try to place six or seven different windows on the spectrum side-by-side in this room, so that the entire range of options that are available to homeowners might be displayed. This display will be accompanied by informational signage. Alan Cannon, owner of Capital has offered windows at cost. Estimated cost: $1000

Instant hot water heater

Status – pending further research – quote below is too high

Consulting for the instant hot water heater was provided by Lyons, Inc. Because hot water is rarely used in the house, it makes sense to use an instant hot water heater rather than keeping a tankful of water hot without need. A gas instant hot water heater will be installed, and the original removed. Cost: $4450

Solar photovoltaic array

Status – in progress

Consulting and installation for the photovoltaic array is provided by Solar Energy Pioneers, locally owned. Solar application plan has been determined and tree has been removed for optimal solar collection. I meet with Tommy Jones this week to discuss details of the array, including KW output, grid-intertie options, and other such details. Mr. Jones has offered sponsorship for solar array but associated costs will be incurred. Estimated cost: pending inter-tie details

Ventilation for Bike shop

Status – in progress

The installation of a ventilation system for the basement of 503 has been advised by EH&S for health and safety of student bike mechanic and volunteers. This project is being completed by WKU Facilities Management. Cost: $5500.


Status – plan in progress

Bathroom will be renovated to stand-up shower (glass donated by KY Plate Glass and Mirror), lowflow fixtures, new sink, new tile on the floor and radiant floor heating. Work will be donated by independent contractor John Downing. Cost estimates for equipment and materials to be determined. Estimated cost: pending


Status – plan in progress

We are currently investigating requirements for “certified kitchen” as this certification would allow us to conduct workshops such as canning or food processing, cooking classes, and even meal preparation for events. The kitchen will be remodeled to demonstrate sustainable materials, including recycled glass countertop. Appliances will be replaced with highly efficient models. Cost estimates to be determined. Estimated cost: pending


Status – plan in progress

Landscaping in backyard will feature rain gardens and other water quality and quantity improving elements. Native and low growing trees will be installed. A tool shed made from pallets will be constructed by engineering students, as will raised beds for food gardens. The driveway will be removed and a permeable driveway and parking area will be designed. The front yard will feature native species and removal of turf to eliminate need for mowing. A “green screen” will be installed on the south facing wall to insulate the house and improve water run-off quality and quantity. Rainwater collection will be optimized to reduce run-off and reduce need for potable water use for landscaping. Estimated cost: pending

EH&S factors:

EH&S has tested for radon and mold, both of which fall in acceptable levels for office space. Lead paint exists on all interior trim work. Asbestos testing is in progress for some glazing materials and bathroom floor tile.


Status – in progress

I have been working with the WKU development office to learn about potential sponsorship opportunities from Alumni or other donors. William Skaggs is my advisor on the project and he and Donald Smith have been very receptive and supportive. They have offered to help develop a brochure for the project that can be distributed to potential supporters. They have also agreed to feature the project in the spring issue of the Spirit magazine. They have advised that first priority is to develop a budget, so that we may all know how much funding must be raised. I am constantly looking for grant opportunities but thus far have not found any that are available for such a project. These will come in time, and when they do, I will apply.


Environmental Design | Environmental Education | Environmental Sciences | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Sustainability