Penn State University


Students for Environmentally-Enlightened Design (SEED)

Students for Environmentally-Enlightened Design (SEED) is a multidisciplinary student organization recognized by the Penn State office of Student Affairs. SEED was founded by three Department of Architecture students in 2009 to promote student-supported initiatives, as well as existing work in environmentally sustainable design.

Follow the SEED blog here.

SEED’s committee includes:

  • President: Emily Stein
  • Past Presidents:
    Stephanie Brick, George H. Gard, Kelly Ryan
  • Vice Presidents/Secretaries:
    Laurie Mendez and Hannah Estrich
  • Treasurer: Travis Creighton


SEEDʼs work has included an inaugural exhibit coinciding with the departmentʼs centennial and showcasing sustainable student work and department initiatives, support for lectures with a sustainable focus, a series of visits to sustainable firms, and, most notably, the SEED Library Project (see below).

SEED Award of Distinction

Stephanie Brick (’10 B.Arch), co-founder of SEED, sponsors the annual “SEED Award of Distinction.” The award recognizes a substantial contribution to the promotion of sustainability. The call for application is provided every spring semester to all SEED members active in the specific academic year.

2013 Winner: Emily Stein
2012 Winner: Chad Garrety
2011 Winner: Kelly Ryan

SEED Library Project

For the past few semesters, SEEDʼs primary project has been to design a shipping container library for refugee camps in Africa. SEED is working with the African Book Project, which has sent hundreds of thousands of books to Africa throughout the last decade. While studying in Kenya, African Book Project Director Dr. Andrew Sicree observed the extreme lack of books in Africa firsthand. The dearth was most pronounced in refugee camps, where adults and children often spend large portions of their lives.

Our design utilizes a shipping container to be built and stocked state-side. The prepared container can be shipped virtually anywhere using standard-shipping methods. In this way, books will go to areas without libraries and areas where construction of a library would be costly and impractical. The library would be a turnkey design with minimal tools, ensuring that virtually anyone could manage it.

The nearly non-existent resources of a refugee camp require resource-conscious sustainable architecture, in which SEEDʼs members and faculty advisors specialize. The design includes both passive and active strategies to create a functional and habitable environment. These strategies include a large shade, which not only creates a shaded outdoor reading space, but also shades the container itself, limiting heat gain. Additionally, the shading provides space for a limited number of photovoltaics, which provide DC power for LED lighting and mechanical ventilation.

These methods create a library that is able to function in a refugee camp with minimal environmental impact. The project will begin construction in March of 2012 thanks to generous support from our sponsors: the H. Campbell and Eleanor R. Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, the Office of the Provost, PSIEE, the Learning Factory, and the Committee for Environmentally Conscious Architecture (CECA).