The Center for Sustainable Living
The Treehouse, the Center for Sustainable Living, is a place where sustainability-minded students can live and work together to support and promote sustainability efforts among themselves and throughout the Dickinson College campus.
Living at the Treehouse, students explore the interconnectedness and codependence that comes with communal living. For example, each semester, residents choose roles that help the community to run smoothly and also to connect the house with the campus and Carlisle. These roles range from treasurer and secretary to community outreach and ecosystems manager. While there are individual roles played in the Treehouse, a central part of the community is the way in which decisions are made. Weekly meetings provide a time to update each other on projects, but everything is decided through consensus.
Although community is a large aspect of living at the Treehouse, sustainable living is also a core value. Residents go to great lengths to reduce their impact on the Earth, whether it is the 3 minute showers (try it!), composting, turning off or avoiding electronics, and buying local foods as much as possible.
In addition to residents’ actions, the actual building showcases green technology to the campus and community through our LEED gold certified building (the first of it's kind in Pennsylvania). The current house was once two townhouses, which were connected in the renovations completed in 2006. The addition of a large living room space in the back gives plenty of room for hanging out together as well as for hosting events. Many of the materials used in the renovation were recycled, such as the doors from the old James center, or the floor cushions filled with shredded plastic bottles. Other features include non-offgasing paints used for the walls, a large, south-facing window, which helps heat the common space in the winter, and a greywater system.
The Treehouse also provides a forum for dialogue and idea exchange relating to sustainability on campus. Regular events are hosted every semester, including Open Mic Nights, Soup and Bread Discussions, and Open Houses.
Check out recent energy use in the Treehouse here: