In an effort to operate more sustainably and reduce their footprint, Trilogy at Power Ranch reached out to Chandler-Gilbert Community College earlier this semester inviting Sustainability students to do a sustainability audit of their property.
Dr. Darien Ripple, CGCC Philosophy instructor and Environmental Technology Center (ETC) Coordinator said that Trilogy is just one of many businesses now realizing the financial and environmental benefit of taking a “greener” approach to operating. “I was very excited when Trilogy at Power Ranch contacted me to talk about how our students and the CGCC Environmental Technology Center could help with making their community more sustainable,” Ripple said. “Trilogy was interested in the experiential projects our students were doing at the ETC and the fact that our students are studying Sustainability and Ecological Literacy as an applied academic endeavor.”
Students in a special projects course entitled, “Eco-philosophy and the Environmental Technology Center” met with Trilogy community leaders to address the concerns of the community, which included street light efficiency, heating the community pools, turf versus granite in common areas, clubhouse energy usage, and community gardens. CGCC student Shane Kula participated in the audit, and said that students broke into teams to research and find solutions for each of these concerns. “Each group spent hours making phone calls, doing field research, and visiting the community to gain an additional understanding of the issues. It was a great learning opportunity and an amazing hands-on experience,” Kula said “When we were done, we were able to offer up several solutions that we felt would benefit the Trilogy community.”
Students shared their feedback in a formal presentation to members of the Trilogy Home Owner’s Association in April. Solutions included clubhouse improvements such as implementing waterless urinals and sensor-driven faucets, which would provide significant water-usage savings, and reducing artificial lighting by at least one third, which would provide greater energy savings. Students also recommended the creation of community gardens and riparian areas, which would serve to set apart the Trilogy at Power Ranch Community as well as provide local organic food sources for residents. Implementing RETscreen software and/or pool solar discs was recommended to save energy when heating the community pool.
Trilogy HOA member Skip Leinau said that HOA members were impressed with the work the students performed and expects there will be action taken to implement some of the recommendations based on the HOA committee's reviews and the Trilogy board’s priorities. “Dr. Ripple and the students did an excellent job on the detailed audit of our community and provided us with an outstanding presentation and report of their findings,” Leinau said. “The information will be valuable to Trilogy in its efforts to reduce costs. The results covered in their report will be considered in any plans for necessary expansion in Trilogy.” Ripple said that this type of experiential learning provides a valuable experience for students. “This is what sustainability education should be about,” Ripple said. “Students engaged in practical learning experiences finding solutions for real life situations.”
For more information about CGCC’s Environmental Technology Center, contact Dr. Ripple at (480) 732-7182 or access www.cgc.edu/etc.