The landscape at the OHIO Ecohouse is managed by the residents. Past and present residents of the Ecohouse have worked diligently to invest in sustainable agricultural practices on the grounds.

In April 2012, a Permaculture Workshop was hosted at the OHIO Ecohouse where participants planned a permaculture design for the Ecohouse residence one weekend and implemented a portion of that plan the following weekend.  

In 2015, the Ecohouse was designated as a Monarch Waystation and a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat. This means the Ecohouse landscape provides a variety of host plants, food sources, and appropriate environmental conditions to support native pollinators and wildlife alike. This is the first designated site on campus.

In 2019, a new Pawpaw bed was established along the rear retaining wall on the grounds, along with invasive plant removal in the native beds around the perimeter of the house.

The Garden

The garden at the OHIO Ecohouse began as a residence project several years ago. In Fall 2011, residents worked with staff in the Office of Sustainability to transform the space into a campus community garden. A number of volunteers from across campus assisted with work days to clean up the space and build raised beds for students, faculty and staff who wished to "adopt" a plot. Plots are offered at no cost to any member of the campus community who is willing to agree to the Garden Rules.

In Fall 2012, the Ecohouse served as a living laboratory for the Food Cycle Service Learning Series.  Faculty participating in the Common Experience Project on Sustainability were able to bring students to workshops where students learned how to harvest, prepare and preserve home grown produce. The canned food was then used in a free community meal in Nelsonville, Ohio made and served by Ohio University students.

The OHIO Ecohouse Community Garden is an organic garden; plot adopters are not able to use chemical fertilizers on any of the plots or surrounding area. This rule is put into place to uphold the mission of the OHIO Ecohouse as a living learning model on sustainable living. Chemical fertilizers are petroleum-based products that can have devastating impacts on local waterways. Chemical pesticides are also prohibited.

The Garden Manager Graduate Assistant from the Office of Sustainability works with garden plot adopters and volunteers to provide proper education on effective sustainable gardening practices. Any individuals or organizations affiliated with the university who are interested in adopting a plot may do so by completing the Garden Plot Application Form found here. No experience necessary.


Many college students experience frustration with inefficient rental units during the winter months.  Since most students rent their off-campus homes for a temporary amount of time, they are reluctant to make significant financial investments in upgrading their home's efficiencies. This causes energy bills to peak during the winter months and, in some cases, for students to be uncomfortable in their own home. 

Ecohouse residents are encouraged to tackle the issue of weatherization each winter by engaging in the following activities:

  • Windows: When possible, storm windows are installed.  Those windows that do not have that capability utilize plastic sheeting to keep cold drafts from entering the home.  Proper installation and sealing (using a hairdryer to "shrink" the sheeting) is necessary for both efficiency and resident comfort (a loose plastic sheet on a drafty window creates a distracting noise and is quite unsightly).  
  • Doors: If a resident notices that a door is allowing a draft into the home, they are encouraged to create a "door draft dodger" by placing a towel along the bottom of the door or installing a simple draft stopper.  
  • Fireplace: The fireplace at the Ecohouse is plugged which restricts cold airflow into the home.  If you have a home with a fireplace, be sure that the flue is closed when not in use.
  • Insulation: During the beginning stages of the Ecohouse's renovations, COAD (Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development) performed an audit on the house in order to determine what efficiency measures would be most effective. Insulation was one of the main areas that needed to be addressed. The Ecohouse has been insulated with Nu-Wool blown cellulose and R19 in the attic, sidewalls, crawl space, and basement walls, which has increased efficiency significantly. Another step residents take to insulate the house is to keep the storm windows in at all times and they add shrinking or plain window plastic to the windows in the winter in order to retain heat. 

Ohio University's Office of Sustainability has partnered with Sugarbush Foundation and COAD to offer OHIO students with workshops on energy efficiency practices in the home. These workshops are free to all OHIO students and will tackle many issues that renters confront in their homes, including those practices listed above. For a full listing of these workshops, check out the calendar of events available at

Solar PV:

The solar array at the OHIO Ecohouse was installed by Dovetail Solar & Wind and is a 2.4 kilo-watt system. It is a grid-tied photovoltaic array; which means that the energy generated goes back to the energy company. This array provides the equivalent of approximately 25% of the energy for the house, depending on behaviors of current residents and seasonal changes.

The cost of the array was $20,000 after rebates provided by the state of Ohio. There is a subsidy for alternative energy installations that applies to PV, wind, and solar thermal. Many are surprised to learn that the efficiency rates are quite low for PV, approximately 12%. There are constraints with PV cells associated with losses from transmission and issues with climate.

Solar Panels elevated above ground

The Solar PV is located immediately east of the Ecohouse Community Garden.

Solar Thermal:

The solar thermal system at the OHIO Ecohouse was installed by Third Sun Solar and Wind Power ( These systems typically range from $4,000-$7,000. This specific panel cost $4,000. The system works by utilizing the heat from the sun to heat a glycol solution that is running through the pipes that are visible in the panel. It is then pumped back into the house to heat the water. An on-demand water heater can supplement supply from the storage tank in the basement, if needed. The payback period on a system such as this is only 5-7 years.

Side of the house with two solar panels.

Solar Thermal system at OHIO Ecohouse

Solar Powered Clothes Dryer:

During warm weather, laundry can be dried using the solar dryer - otherwise known as a clothesline - located at the rear of the house.

Clothing rack Formed out of wires and strings

Installing a clothesline is one of the cheapest and most impactful sustainable lifestyle behaviors at the Ecohouse.