Learning Outside the Classroom at Phipps Conservatory

In preparation for our LEED design project in Dr. Sroufe’s Sustainability Tools and Processes for New Initiatives class, we have a series of learning opportunities that go beyond the typical classroom lecture.  Last week’s presentations focused on the LEED certification process to gather a base understanding for our final deliverable.  This week we had the opportunity to hear from a program alumni, Jason Wirick, at Phipps Conservatory.  The learning opportunity included a presentation and site visit to Phipp’s Living Building. Jason gave us insight regarding the “Living Building Challenge”, a green building certification program that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today and acts to diminish the gap between current limits and ideal solutions.

To learn about the process that went in to create Phipp’s Living Building, watch the video below.


Passivhaus Institute

1797994_583548705074796_1463370414_nGuten tag! Our business visits began today with a visit to the Passivhaus Institute, an international standard for sustainable architecture. At the institute, Passivhaus employees focus on research and development, training, certifications, passive house planning software, quality assurance, and conferences.

There are about 400,000 Passivhaus certified buildings in the world, and even more implement Passivehaus principles in their buildings. It is a growing trend in the US with 600 passivhaus buildings, mainly in New York and California.

What’s special about a passive house?
– A high level of thermal insulation
– Well insulated window frames
– Thermal bridge free construction
– Airtight building envelope
– Ventilation with efficient heat recovery


Matt Lepri had the opportunity to attend a Passivhaus conference in Pittsburgh last semester, so he was excited for the rest of the cohort to learn more. “Passivhaus gives people a new way to plan for buildings, homes or any construction,” shares Matt. “It flips the usual process to develop a plan for the structure first, then use renewables to cover the rest of the energy. It takes buildings past planning for solar panels.”

Our presenter, Adrienne, lives in a passivhaus building and shared many of the benefits, including “clean air” and an “energy savings between 75-90%”.

Overall, we had an eye-opening morning that may lead students to potential solutions for our sustainable building design project in Dr. Sroufe’s sustainable tools and innovation class. Video to learn more about Passive House!

Student Spotlight: Daniel (Dan) Sutton


Before Duquesne: Dan attended The Pennsylvania State University where he majored in Architecture.  During his undergraduate education Dan was able to spend a semester abroad in Rome, Italy studying Architecture and Urban Design.  Upon graduation, he received his Bachelor of Architecture, which complimented his previous degree of an A.A.S. in Architectural Design and Drafting from Butler County Community College. Before joining the cohort Dan worked for rue21 as a Store Design Coordinator.  Prior work experience includes intern architect experience with Premier Architecture/JMAC Architects, the Penn State Solar Decathlon Team, and The Foreman Group.

Why Duquesne: “I chose this program over the others for few reasons. The first is that you are obtaining your MBA but there is a strong focus on Sustainability. My background in school primarily focused on sustainable design and I thought this would be a great program to compliment my background if I decide to stay in the field of architecture, or, it could open up new opportunities in a new career field. The second reason was the time, a one-year program. I didn’t want to drag my education out for 3-4 years. I wanted to hit it hard and get it over with in one year. That was definitely a huge selling point for me. Another reason was the faculty. When I visited the school, they had such passion for what they were doing and a passion for sustainability which is near and dear to me.”

Beyond Duquesne: Dan’s goal is to take on a leadership role within any organization whose business strategy supports sustainability and a global call for change.