Claremont Students to Collect Data for Innovative Green Building in Claremont

The first shovel-full of reusable dirt will be unearthed on April 30 at the site of Claremont’s first-ever Superadobe building, which will be one of the greenest buildings in the world and the first public building of its type in the U.S. The groundbreaking marks the beginning of an innovative, almost entirely green construction process, which some Claremont students will have the opportunity to be participate in.

The building will house the offices of Uncommon Good, a Claremont non-profit that operates a mentoring and college preparation program for low-income families and collaborates with other organizations in the area on environmental initiatives. The organization has worked with Claremont students in the past through volunteering and internships.

The ceremony will take place on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at 211 West Foothill Blvd. It will include a blessing from the pastor of the Claremont United Methodist Church, which donated land for the building. Representatives from the Gabrieleño/Tongva Tribal Council, who are involved in the project’s environmental and cultural education goals, will also provide a blessing at the event.

The building, which is called Greenspace, will be the first non-residential building ever made using the environmentally-friendly Superadobe construction method. Superadobes are made from 90% on-site materials, mainly dirt, water and cement. These are mixed and put into large flexible tubing, which is stacked to make walls and held in place by barbed wire until dried.

Once completed, the building will use passive heating and cooling systems, solar panels, energy conserving fixtures, and rain-water collection units to minimize its environmental impact. It is expected to take a little over a year to complete, with a projected completion date of June 2012.

Nancy Mintie, Executive Director of Uncommon Good, said the building’s construction showcases her organization’s goals while also providing Claremont students the chance to contribute to a cutting-edge green project.

“We are already working with 40 students from Harvey Mudd and Pomona,” Mintie said. “They will be helping with measuring the carbon footprint and air emissions during the construction process, which hasn’t been done before.”

Superadobe supporters say that its construction process produces the lowest CO2 emissions of almost any building method. However, since the technique is so uncommon, not much hard data exists to back up these claims. Mintie said this is where Claremont students can help.

“Students will be involved in environmental data collection and recording,” she said. A pamphlet about the collaboration reads, “through their science, Uncommon Good will have reliable data to prove that Superadobe is a more ecologically friendly method of construction than standard construction.”

“We really encourage anyone who would like to participate in the ceremony to come to the site,” Mintie said. “We’re very excited about getting started on this, and to have students involved throughout the process.”

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