Office of Sustainability to begin renovations to Regents home

Kayla Swanson

The Office of Sustainability moved to a new home after fall break, a home it aims to make as sustainable as possible. 

The office was previously in the Facilities Management office in Parking Structure 1, but is now in an old home on 503 Regents Ave.  

Sustainability coordinator Christian Ryan-Downing said she was at the future home of the sustainability office last spring to watch bees be removed from the walls and thought it might be a good match for her office’s needs. 

“I knew we were outgrowing our place at facilities bad, and I was kind of scouting for new space,” she said. 

The house, which was built in 1931, will be used as a demonstration home to promote sustainable practices.

“The idea is that there are a lot of people that have old houses like this that don’t have any insulation, that don’t have efficient appliances or heating or cooling, and we want to show them here’s what you can do to be more sustainable with your own home,” Ryan-Downing said.

Ryan-Downing said the renovations would include paint that promotes better air quality, landscaping with native plants, new windows and energy efficient appliances. Everything inside the house will be sourced from surplus or reuse.

The house will also be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified, meaning that it promotes recycling and sustainable practices.

“That’s a challenge with an old house like this, because there’s only so much you can do, but we’re sure going to do our best,” Ryan-Downing said. 

Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to help with the renovations, Ryan-Downing said. 

The more involved that students and faculty can get with the renovation of this house, the better,” she said.

Gordon Baylis, vice president for research, said the renovations would give students the opportunity to solve real world problems. 

“If we can engage students in saying, ‘All right, here’s a house that’s not energy-efficient — how can we deal with that?’ and we address that real world problem,” Baylis said. “That’s the best kind of education.”

The new location is also home to Big Red Bikes, Ryan-Downing said.

“We hope that more space will allow our mechanics to get more bikes into the fleet to better meet demand,” she said.

John Osborne, vice president of Campus Services and Facilities, said the home will help WKU inform the community of the priorities of sustainability. 

“I think it will allow the university to demonstrate how in a very practical way there are things that can be performed by anyone and by everyone to make their residence more efficient,” Osborne said.