Green is the new black

GreenHouse-11_optIt’s not every day that you get to see a 400-square-foot house being built inside a student center. Or get to relax on a couch made of wooden pallets. Or make scarves out of T-shirts.

But at a new event, “Green House: Trash Transformed,” students saw how UIndy is going green—and learned a thing or two about adding a little more green to their own lives.

Thanks to some teamwork and hard work from students in the Themed-Dining Experience Design class (XD), a see-through house made of PVC pipes was constructed for the event. The green house was outfitted with handmade upcycled items such as a coffee table made of DVD cases, pillows sewn from old shirts, and fruit crates turned into a bookshelf.

From trash to treasure

Experience Design is a multidisciplinary program that researches, designs, and implements interactive experiences for a target audience— in this case, the campus community.

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“I enjoyed working on this project tremendously,” says senior Theatre major and Experience Design student Jason Gill. “It was a wonderful way for me to take the theatre skills I have learned here at UIndy and apply them in a new way. I’m an artist, and it’s a project like this that reminds me that art comes in all forms.”

As part of their class project, the students also served foods that had an environmental connection, such as dirt pudding (chocolate pudding with gummy worms), ants on a log (celery sticks with raisins), tamales, and green punch. In addition to receiving a guided tour of the house, students had the chance to make a “dog bone” out of old T-shirts, a gift bag made from newspapers, or a T-shirt handbag.

“We really enjoyed being involved in this collaborative project,” says Dr. Samantha Meigs, director of the Experience Design program. “It was great fun doing the research and building the items. The XD students learned more about client relations and worked to find creative ways to use the recycled materials.”

Mind meld

The idea for the event was a collaboration between Experience Design students, the UIndy student Green Team, and the Sustainability Committee on campus. The groups wanted students to learn about cool and useful items that could be made from “trash,” and how UIndy is working to be more environmentally aware. Cans and collection bins for paper, cans, and plastic are scattered all over campus, in addition to seven large containers outside that are single-stream, meaning that they can collect cardboard, glass, and many other co-mingled items.

“We wanted to use this event as a way to let people know how to recycle on campus and also about some of the behind-the-scenes initiatives that UIndy is doing,” says Jen Huber, chair of the Sustainability Committee.

Just this past semester, two water bottle refill stations were installed, with a counter showing how many plastic bottles have been saved. More than 10,000 bottles have been saved from the trash since. Roberts Hall, a residence hall for upperclassmen built in 2012, has solar panels on the roof to heat the water for the building. More than 90 percent of the hot water used in that building comes from the energy captured by those panels. All across campus, CFL light bulbs are used, as are earth-friendly cleaning chemicals. The cafeteria has reduced its water usage by eliminating carrying trays and recycling all cardboard and cans.

“With several thousand people on this campus every week, we really are a small city,” says Jen. “It’s important for UIndy to do as much as we can to reduce our environmental footprint and to be a green example in the community.”

To follow the UIndy Green Team, visit