Ramapo College’s academic environment has benefited from the addition of the Sharp Sustainability Education Center. The Center further incorporates environmental literacy and understanding of sustainability into the Ramapo curriculum across disciplines. Students can take advantage of both volunteer and for-credit internship opportunities available through the Center. Student clubs, most notably 1STEP and the Environmental Alliance, have a gathering place and forum for their activities. Undergraduate and graduate environmental / sustainability courses are based in the Center, making it a campus hub for advanced study on sustainability issues. Workshops and certificate programs on energy savings and sustainability for homeowners, businesses, and community groups (such as scouting organizations) are also held.
The building houses a “smart” classroom, a display gallery, an office, and support spaces. The Center demonstrates the concepts of green building by making the best use of orientation, natural daylight and natural ventilation, using recycled and environmentally-friendly materials, reducing water consumption through fixture choice, providing heating and cooling via a geothermal system, electricity production from roof-mounted photovoltaic panels, and providing a super-insulated building “envelope” (walls and windows, roof and floor slab) to reduce heating and cooling loads.
The exterior features of the Center include beehives (coordinated by the Northeast NJ Beekeepers Association), and an organic vegetable garden will be installed in 2013. The building design allows for the future installation of a greenhouse. Also envisioned is the development of additional outdoor features of the Sharp Sustainability Education Center, including a windmill and an outdoor classroom.