NU ESW has been active on campus for many years now, and there is a long record of projects that have a positive and sustainable impact .

Chagres Rice

Chagres Rice began through work with villages in the Chagres National Park, Panama. The village identified the need for hand-powered rice hullers, which would save them time and energy as well as decreasing the damage to the rice grains. The team prototyped, tested, and finally built five rice hulling machines that produced over 98% yields of hulled rice. Although contact was unfortunately lost with the Chagres villages, the team established contact with an area of Nicaragua with similar needs. One of the hullers is currently being tested by the community there, and we hope to send more soon. 

Tiny House

In 1997, social activist Jay Schafer founded the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, a business that plans and constructs small homes. His line of Tiny Houses range in size between 65 to 140 total square feet, significantly smaller than the average 2,000+ square-foot house and substantially more environmentally friendly.

The Tiny House began as a project in the DESIGN 298/398 sequence. The goal was to construct a prototype of a 128 square-foot home for a single person that contains all the amenities for comfortable living – a house which generates its own inputs and outputs, promoting and independently sustainable system. By developing an example of an off-grid home, we aim to inspire the public to take steps in changing their own living arrangement to encourage the conservation of the environment without sacrificing comfort.

Centennial Solar Panel System

The Centennial Solar Panel System, a solar photovoltaic array on the roof of Northwestern’s Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center, has been installed and connected to the building’s electric grid. The 16.8-kilowatt panel display has the potential to generate as much as 20,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year, enough to power a computer lab in Ford and reduce the University’s reliance on the power grid. Check out how much energy the solar panel produces daily!

Ford was the first Northwestern building to achieve silver-level certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED, Green Building Rating System.)