Buildings Community

Office of Sustainability Partners with College Prep Program

This summer, the Office of Sustainability has launched a partnership with WashU’s College Prep program to offer several new opportunities to scholars enrolled in the program. The College Prep Program is an immersive, on-campus learning experience that students attend every summer between their freshmen and senior years of high school. During the program, scholars take classes and attend seminars that focus on all subject areas to prepare them for rigorous college curriculum and to explore future career paths. The College Prep Program was developed to fulfill Washington University’s commitment to making higher education more accessible to first generation college students, offering talented students the opportunity to live and learn on campus, prepare for their college career, and connect with other talented students.

Beginning in the Summer of 2017, the Office of Sustainability developed three touch-points to support the education and development of these scholars.

On June 7, the cohort of rising sophomores toured Hillman Hall to learn about sustainable buildings. The tour portion of the excursion focused on the sustainable design features that make Hillman Hall unique and enabled certification at the LEED Platinum level. The summer associate team that put together the tour gave explanations of the four main areas of sustainability that are featured in Hillman Hall; materials, energy, landscape and transportation. Highlights of the tour included a stroll through Hillman’s biodiverse landscape, the brightly lit forum and the roof that hosts an array of photovoltaic solar panels. 

The students were also given a lecture on the principles guiding green school design and how a building can become more sustainable by guest architect, Andrew Petty of Cannon Design. With this information, students were put into five groups and given 10 minutes to create what their ideal green school would look like. Asked to use only a few white board markers and their own creativity, the students’ ideas ranged from an algae pool used to power buses to riding exercise bikes to generate electricity.

On June 16, the cohort of rising seniors engaged in an afternoon of sustainability and climate programming, including a lecture from Professor David Fike, Director of the Environmental Studies Program, on the science behind global warming; a tour of Hillman Hall; and a Climate Negotiations simulation coordinated by Seth Blum, an intern with the WashU Climate Program. After gaining an understanding of the urgency of climate change, the students explored the challenges in negotiating a global climate agreement while representing the interests of countries who play a role in the UN climate framework and the Paris Agreement.

After successful completion of the College Prep Program and of their senior year of high school, the students are given the opportunity to apply for a summer intern position in the Office of Sustainability. The first two students to receive positions are Mackenzie Hines-Wilson and Meris Saric, whom the Office welcomed this summer.

The Office of Sustainability will continue to offer outreach and education opportunities to St. Louis area youth through programs like College Prep, to achieve the social responsibility goals outlined in our Strategic Plan for Sustainable Operations.

Article by Mackenzie Hines-Wilson and Makio Yamamoto on 15 June 2017