PhilaU Partnership Showcases Work at National Sustainable Design Expo

Robert Fryer, assistant professor in the M.S. in Sustainable Design Program, and sustainable design student Kevin Frost presented their work at the National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington D.C. from April 15-17.

Last year, Frost and Fryer received an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) P3 Award grant to support a collaborative sustainable design project with Cherry Hill West High School in Cherry Hill, N.J. The team presented the results of their efforts at the design expo among the nation’s top sustainable design schools and “who’s who of sustainable design experts,” Fryer said — including the head scientist of the EPA and several high ranking members of President Obama’s administration.

The P3 Award competition, which stands for the three Ps “People, Prosperity and Planet,” is a student competition that awards select students a $10,000 grant to develop an idea that would make real-world improvements toward a more sustainable future.

Frost and Fryer’s project proposed to help Cherry Hill West High School curtail runoff caused by their athletic fields that was polluting the nearby Cooper River and designed a new environmental curriculum that incorporated sustainability education.

The team organized a collaborative design charette, a design practice that includes all of the stakeholders’ inputs and ideas throughout the design process, and came up with a proposal for a new landscape and classroom building that would house the newly developed curriculum, while also eliminating the runoff problem.

“You have to take a holistic look at any problem before you can come up with a solution,” Fryer said, explaining the way the sustainable design process works. “That is why we like to assemble a diverse group of people to work on a problem. Knowing about more issues means that more problems can be addressed.”

Fryer said the project provided a great opportunity for faculty and students to work together outside the classroom, something that the sustainable design program emphasizes.

“It also means we are acting on the same stage as other major universities,” Fryer said. “Not everyone was awarded a P3 Award to work on a project. The EPA only awarded grants to projects they felt certain would meet a high standard and amount of relevance.”

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