PSU Logo

Learning Grounds

The nine-acre Sustainability Experience Center is a destination for students, teachers, business leaders, and citizens to experience and experiment with new (and old) ways to apply the practices of sustainability to food, water, building materials, and energy systems.

Vision for the Future

Pennsylvanians and world citizens will put their hands in the soil and learn about a better way to grow, transport, and eat our food. They will walk through a demonstration home that produces more energy than it uses while learning about less impactful way to move our cars. They will witness plants and fungi as they quietly and efficiently clean our wastewater to make into drinking water. They will hear the wind as it spins turbines, demonstrating another way to generate the power that runs our lives. They will talk to experts who know how to make useful items from salvage material and walk through woodlots and meadows restored to a more natural state of being.

Map of Learning Grounds

  1. MorningStar Solar Home
    Designed and built by Penn State students, the MorningStar represents an important step in Penn State’s advancing leadership in energy solutions for the future. The MorningStar solar home will serve as a teaching and  research facility dedicated to clean energy systems.
  2. The HyRES Laboratory
    The Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems Laboratory (Hyres Laboratory) will be utilized to research multiple renewable energy systems and “Smart Grid” technologies. Designed to plug and play new technologies, the lab will serve as a cutting edge research facility for educational and industrial partnerships.
  3. Greenhouse
    The Senior Class Gift of 2000, the Greenhouse is an experimental waste water treatment facility. On-going research includes an effluent polishing system for eliminating pharmaceuticals from our wastewater, a critical issue that is absent in most central treatment facilities. The greenhouse also features a free standing tracking solar array.
  4. Event Shell
    The event shell will provide a community stage for outdoor lectures, performances and artistic/cultural events which advance the ethic and practice of sustainable living. 
  5. Garden Head House
    Supporting year-round experimentation with local food production and native species research, the garden head house will provide a supporting infrastructure and restroom facilities for the community gardens.
  6. Community Gardens
    The community garden site provides students and community members the chance to attend workshops and put in practice local and organic food production methods. Currently, more than 100 gardeners practice sustainable and organic gardening techniques on this site.
  7. Entrance Wall
    The planned "front door" of the nine-acre Sustainability Experience Center, the entrance wall and coordinated site improvements will greet visitors with an informative and attractive preview of all features of the site.
  8. "Wind for Schools" Turbine
    The wind turbine will serve Penn State’s Wind for Schools program and also provide a student research lab to assess noise, durability, and advanced materials of wind turbines.
  9. Sustainability Leadership Center
    Planned as an Eco-retreat/ Meeting space and Sustainability Consulting Center, the Leadership Center will provide a home base for practical and hands-on learning programs in sustainability at Penn State.
  10. Chevrolet Solar Carport
    A cost-effective way to utilize solar electricity is by converting sunlight into fuel for transportation. The Chevrolet Solar Carport proximity will permit researchers to collect and track data that will help to prove the efficiency of solar-generated electricity for cars and motorcycles, and daily commuters.