Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Colby Carr, PSU interior design senior, is interested in green houses

  • Imagine a home or residential development that supplies its own power and water, treats its own sewage and, on top of all that, grows its own food.

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  • Imagine a home or residential development that supplies its own power and water, treats its own sewage and, on top of all that, grows its own food.
    Colby Carr, Pittsburg State University senior interior design major, has been thinking about sustainable design for a long time.
    The daughter of Phil and Sonja Carr, she was born in Winfield. When she was 4, her father joined the Pittsburg State staff and the family moved to Pittsburg. She attended Pittsburg schools, then enrolled at PSU.
    “I started that first semester as a business major,” she said. “I wanted to become a real estate agent, then I decided that business management was not what I wanted and went to an interior design major with an emphasis in residential design.”
    Her advisor, Denise Bertoncino, is very interested in green/sustainable design and shared that with her students, which reinforced Carr’s own inclinations, which started with her parents at home.
    “My parents started recycling when I was probably in elementary school,” she said. “My dad has done all the remodeling of our house and landscaped the backyard. He did our entire patio with recycled bricks. My grandpa was a wood worker, so the building aspect kind of runs in our family.”
    Carr was one of two Kansas students who received a USGBC scholarship for the Midwest region to attend the Greenbuild Conference in November, 2012, at San Francisco. The event brings together industry leaders, experts and frontline professionals dedicated to sustainable building.
    The experience included educational sessions, vendors displaying green products, speakers such as Van Jones and environmentalist/documentarian Philippe Cousteau and doing volunteer work.
    “For all my volunteer time at Greenbuild, I assisted with the recycling stations,” Carr said. “The goal for the entire conference was to have 85 percent of all disposed materials be recycled or composted, which would be the highest number ever from a Greenbuild to date. I was absolutely amazed to find out that the majority of products distributed through the conference were mainly compostable. Even the plastic containers were made from a corn byproduct.”
    She described the experience as “eye-opening and invigorating,” and began looking into more opportunities pertaining to sustainability.
    “Denise Bertoncino told me about Earthships, and I thought it was amazing,” Carr said. “I applied to the Earthship Academy and got an acceptance letter.”
    Earthships are radically sustainable buildings which provide their own electricity through a prepackaged photovoltaic (solar) and wind power system. However, they may also have multiple power sources, including the option of tying into the grid.
    Earthships catch water from the sky (rain and snow melt), but may also have city water as a back-up. All household sewage is used and reused in outdoor and indoor treatment cells.
    Earthship wetlands, the planters that hold hundreds of gallons of water from sinks and the shower, can be used to raise fresh produce in the winter.
    Page 2 of 2 - Earthships are designed to meet standard building codes. Those who don’t choose to build an Earthship may retrofit an existing building with some or all of the Earthship Systems.
    Carr will be in Taos, N.M., where Earthships is based, from June 24 to Aug. 2.
    “I’ll do a hands-on experience,” Carr said. “I’ll get to learn what they’re doing and apply it. Then I’ll do another month of project building on any one of their projects.”
    She would like to work with an organization that does disaster relief work.
    “Someday I’d like to open up a recycled furniture store, but that’s down the road,” Carr said.

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