Sustainable Building Design – An Independent Study


I began the Certificate in Sustainable Building and Design at the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield, Vermont during the spring of 2015. I have completed the required three-week course at Yestermorrow and I am currently completing the additional 18 days of electives during this academic year. As part of this Certificate, I am undertaking a practicum project and independent study at Northwood School.


The goal of this project is to design a theoretical outdoor learning environment for my school with community involvement. The location of the potential design is an underutilized and disconnected area of my school campus that is centered around an outdoor pavilion.

The proposed location of the design is an underutilized and disconnected area of campus that is centered around a rustic outdoor pavilion. Although this area has an unimproved feel and does not provide people the opportunity to respond to any type of spatial organization, the pavilion is a nice addition to the campus. While it is not currently integrated with daily campus life, the site is no farther away from the main building than other campus facilities. The usage issue is not a matter of distance, but rather a perceived feeling of separation. The potential project site features a pavilion surrounded by an unimproved open space. This site is separated from the main campus and hidden behind a row of young trees that block visibility. While the pavilion includes picnic tables and a fireplace, there is little motivation by the community to regularly use this space.

  There is genuine interest and curiosity about this project as evidenced through informal conversations and community review of five conceptual design boards that were posted in the Northwood Lobby.While Northwood enjoys a great sense of community, this part of campus could potentially serve as a catalyst to bring the school together through more frequent and healthy interactions: social, athletic, and academic.​ My goal for this project is to create a forum that brings community members together to create a theoretical sustainable environment that is truly responsive to its wants and needs.

My learning objective for this project is to increase my understanding and appreciation of sustainable building and design best practices while gaining a number of valuable skills. Specifically, I will learn how to engage a community, develop a design process and procedure, create a website, develop a presentation, facilitate meetings, and hone my collaboration and research abilities.In addition to these tangible skills, I will learn how promoting a deeper connection between a community and the design process to create a sustainable environment that is responsive to community needs can be integrated into a larger vision.

Rachel Hollander ’16


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