Living Lab @ Ross Reserve

Academic Energy Materials Site Water

Purdue’s Living Lab at The Ross Reserve will be a facility that supports research and teaching activities on living systems, and will be instrument of discovery for environmental change and adaptation.

When the university’s Ross Biological Reserve was founded in 1949 more than 65 years ago, it was imagined to be a “living laboratory,” to make discoveries through field research, teaching and outreach in evolutionary ecology and conservation biology. The Living Lab project is the next phase of this reserve: first, it connects us through our landscape through experiential learning; second, the Living Lab’s operational metabolism will actively contribute to the ecological dynamics of the reserve; and finally, it expands visitor capacity while protecting the integrity of on-site research. 

The new facility will adopt the Living Building Challenge framework as a way to determine the efficacy of its systems. The Living Lab manages its resources by conceiving of a building metabolism of energy, water, and nutrients. Like a living organism, a building and its occupants have a metabolism that regulates inputs and outputs of its resources. The Lab accounts for the site’s energy and resource flows as part of this metabolism and is designed to balance flows by closing loops on sites where possible. Thus, the construction and operation of the facility will itself be a multi-disciplinary learning opportunity as its creation is integrated into curriculum across the Purdue campus from the colleges of Science, Technology, Agriculture, Engineering, and Liberal Arts. The Living.Lab will co-evolve with the site and provide a dynamic learning environment that will become the new legacy of Ross Reserve.

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