The Modular Squad

TCU’s Institute for Environmental Studies helps the PGA go green at Colonial Invitational.

The Modular Squad

The Pavilion’s rooftop deck offered a great view of the greens — both on the course and in containers. The drought-tolerant plants were chosen by Prairie Designs to attract wildlife and keep the roof cooler.

The Modular Squad

TCU’s Institute for Environmental Studies helps the PGA go green at Colonial Invitational.

In January, Michael Slattery, director of TCU’s Institute for Environmental Studies, got an unexpected phone call from the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth.

Officials with the PGA tour were looking to green-up their image and wondered if TCU’s Institute of Environmental Studies could help.

“The Colonial said they’d like to showcase some of the sustainability initiatives we’re doing in the Institute,” Slattery said. “They’re also trying to green the PGA tour so they offered us a place at the Colonial, a venue where we could entertain potential donors and guests of TCU, but also something attention grabbing where we could begin to raise awareness about the environmental challenges that we face.”

He quickly called a meeting of his “Green Team,” which includes environmental studies Professor Tony Burgess, then-graduate students Jon Kinder ’06  (MS ’09) and David Williams ’08 (MS ’09)  and art professors Cameron Schoepp and Chris Powell.

With a small budget and lots of ideas, the team went to work.

The result: the Green Pavilion — a white modular structure where fresh breezes replace air conditioning from generators and native plants on the sky deck add to the natural habitat, drawing butterflies.

Drought-tolerant plants keep the roof cooler and attract wildlife
(Photo by Glen Ellman.)

Sitting by the first fairway during the PGA’s May 25-31 stop in Fort Worth, the pavilion attracted lots of media exposure as well as curious onlookers who wondered, just what is that contraption?

The open-air shelter has the typical amenities of a hospitality tent — there’s a bar and plenty of viewing spots to take in the golfing action — but with a much lower carbon footprint.

Designed with the help of California architectural firm Anderson and Anderson, experts in modular design, the pavilion can be taken down and reassembled with relative ease.  “It’s really like a bunch of Legos,” said Williams.

He and Kinder spent most of this spring assembling the structure, which uses steel donated by Advantage Steel in Fort Worth and white shade cloth on eaves that moves up and down, depending on the sun’s position and time of day. Eventually, the structure will also have solar panels on the winged eaves, and will integrate wind power from a turbine placed a dozen feet away.

Kinder and Williams also brought in green roof technology they developed through their new company, Prairie Designs. Using native plants on the pavilion’s roof helped lower the temperature and drew butterflies.

Ken Morgan, director of TCU’s Energy Institute, also partnered with Slattery’s team to keep energy needs as self sufficient as possible. He said the design will eventually evolve and spread to other uses and venues.

“We’d like to see this at as many venues as we can,” Morgan said. “The PGA has been gracious enough for us start here. It’s a good start.”

Slattery said the pavilion will continue to evolve, but has already made a difference by raising awareness.

“In order to have a healthier future, we have to design our way to that,” Slattery said. “We can’t just wait and hope something changes. This is one way to design something in a way that’s more sustainable for our planet’s future.”

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