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Air Conditioning for HT’s Dumpster Project Arrives in Time for August Heat

(AUSTIN, Texas) 8.4.14 — Air conditioning in a 36 sq. ft. dumpster, part of a sustainability experiment on the Huston-Tillotson University campus, has arrived just in time for the August Texas heat.  As part of the on-going Dumpster Project, HT’s Dean of the University College and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Dr. Jeff Wilson, aka ‘Professor Dumpster’ has completed six months living in a modified trash dumpster.

Dumpster Project

Dumpster Project

Phase II of the experiment will include a connection to the electrical grid, household appliances, and most amenities found in a modern home. Phase I, which launched on February 4, 2014, included living with no amenities, including sourcing  water from Lady Bird Lake. Professor Dumpster and HT’s Green is the New BlackTM (GITNB) student organization renovated the dumpster to include a false floor ‘basement’ that stores cooking equipment, bedding and clothing, an improved roof, solar lighting, bug repellant systems, and an online weather data station for the dumpster. The initial six month period provided a huge range of harsh weather conditions – from record setting below freezing winter to triple-digit summer temperatures.

“It has been an interesting six months at home, especially with the harsh climate in Central Texas with temperatures in the dumpster approaching 130°F,” said Professor Dumpster. I’ve been looking forward to air conditioning and a bit more of a comfortable studio experience.

As part of the sustainability experiment, GITNB has worked with local K-12 students and community partners on environmental science and awareness projects. HT students worked with Blackshear Elementary students, who built water filters, tested shade materials, and helped to plant the garden next to the dumpster.

“The Dumpster Project really stepped up awareness of sustainability issues here on campus amongst the students,” said Angelica Erazo, GITNB co-chair. “I can say that my experience, both working on the project and living in the dumpster for two nights, was a game changer in how I think about living a minimal life and lessening the impact on the planet.”

Phase III of the experiment, dubbed ‘The Über Dumpster,’ will launch in the spring of 2015. Phase III aims to combine the best aspects of the first two phases so that all the amenities of modern life will be included, operating with the smallest ecological footprint possible. Designs may include solar power generation, a composting toilet, a flat screen television, and a passive-solar heated shower.   

The Dumpster Project and HT’s Green is the New BlackTM have partnered with Texas Disposal Systems as the official home builder, Treehouse Green Building Supply as the chief home wares outfitter, and Whole Earth Provision company as the Phase I dumpster camping supplier. The project is also supported by The Ford Motor Company Fund’s Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Community Challenge, and Johnson Controls.

“This has been a learning experience unique to our students at Huston-Tillotson and our partner schools,” said Larry L. Earvin, Ph.D., HT president and chief executive officer. “The experiment is a testament to HT’s commitment to stewarding the environment and becoming a leader in green innovation.”

Huston-Tillotson University, Austin’s first institution of higher education, offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in 20 areas of study, including Environmental Studies. The historically black university is affiliated with The United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ. 

See media coverage on FOX7, KEYE-TV, KVUE, KXAN, and the Weather Channel.

Green is the New Black

Professor Dumpster

The Dumpster Project