The Center for Sustainable Living provides an environmentally conscious place for project-based, interdisciplinary learning. Its key functions are to:
- Provide a living and learning laboratory for students and a meeting place for staff
- Enable outreach to the community through tours, workshops, group activities, and meeting space for green-focused organizations
- Support outreach to K-12 school districts through field trips and hands-on projects
Located on the far west end of the Kenosha campus, the center includes a 1,884-square-foot house, several outbuildings, and a gazebo. The house interior has flooring made from cork and sustainably harvested wood. One room is dedicated to showing interior decorations and furnishings that use recycled and other sustainable materials. A sustainability library provides books and other materials on green topics. The grounds include a natural prairie, a creek bed, and many types of trees, providing habitat for birds and wildlife. Space is available for creating small urban farm plots. Instructional offerings cover sustainable practices including gardening, renewable energy, home energy systems, food preservation, and smart recycling. Projects completed at the center to date include:
- Retrofitting to demonstrate an array of renewable energy sources, including geothermal heat pump technology, solar water heating, photovoltaic parking lot lighting, and improved heating and cooling systems.
- Assessment of the property for its value for urban farming, sustainable landscaping, and test/demonstration horticulture beds.
- An energy audit to establish benchmarks for energy savings and assess future needs.
The center allows for engagement on cross-disciplinary demonstration projects and topics. Sustainable practices are employed at the center and nearby grounds, including using sustainable building products, organic seeds and plants and implementing energy efficiencies where practicable.
Several Gateway programs such as Horticulture, Engineering, Geoexchange Technology, Interior Design, Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Technology, and Gateway’s apprenticeship program utilize the center to provide hands-on training to students.
The residential building provides an environment for students and the community to learn about green building and décor. Interior Design students have already applied what they’ve learned by creating a “green room” in the center, featuring repurposed furnishings and finishes that promote sustainable and green design. In addition, signs are placed in every room to provide information about the many green building products and practices used in each room.
The grounds are as diverse as the region – an environmental backdrop including a small orchard, forested area and prairie, each presenting Horticulture students with real-life examples of topics discussed in their classroom.
In addition, Horticulture students can use the urban farm located on the grounds to put into practice the concepts they learn in the classroom. They plant and raise vegetables, herbs and flowers. They are then harvested and sold to the public at the nearby Pike Creek Horticulture Center during the growing season.
Through a donation from Kenosha community members Kathy and Joseph Madrigrano Jr., a bee education center has been created at the Center for Sustainable Living. The purpose is to raise awareness about the dramatic loss of bees – essential pollinators of crops – through colony collapse disorder. Features include a mural, bee-friendly gardens, and programs discussing colony collapse disorder. The site is open to community workshops and activities and for school field trips.
A 1/4-mile Nature Discovery Trail on the Center for Sustainable Living property, funded by the Kloss Foundation and supported by Kathy and Joseph Madrigrano Jr., includes five stations with activities involving solar energy, recycling and composting, birds, trees and insects. The trail is available for field trips.
Gateway’s summer camp program, offered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kenosha County in partnership with Snap-on Incorporated, includes two week-long sessions with environmental themes. A solar energy week includes hands-on activities that include cooking in solar ovens and building and racing solar-powered cars. A sustainability week covers horticulture, native birds, renewable energy, recycling, and exploration of the Center for Sustainable Living.
The center is available for use by community groups for meetings and events. For rates and availability contact, Kallie Johnson, Program Manager for the Center for Sustainable Living, (262) 564-2196.