Greenhouse students on mountain

GreenHouse provides sustainability themed programming for more than 100 upper-level students from a wide range of majors. Located within University Heights South, a LEED-certified building, GreenHouse programs involve students, faculty, staff, and mentors from all across campus and throughout the greater Burlington area.

Program Overview

Please note: GreenHouse enrollment is limited to current students, and the Sustainability Learning Community is available to incoming first-time, first-year students.


GreenHouse is specifically designed to promote ecological literacy, instill a strong sense of place, and foster a holistic appreciation for human and natural environments.We seek to provide students from any academic discipline with opportunities to live in an ecologically-minded community with an active and supportive learning atmosphere.

Programs are designed to complement, rather than compete with, students' major coursework. We offer hands-on activities that provide the opportunity to learn skills and gain knowledge not typically available in their classes. In addition, activities often take place on weekends or in the evenings so that time conflict with other academic work is minimized.

The GreenHouse program is designed to meet the following learning objectives:

  • Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach to explore key ecological principles and their importance in understanding the relationship between humans and their environment
  •  Providing a framework for developing one's sense of place, both here in Vermont and in life after graduation
  •  Promoting opportunities for environmental stewardship by applying local solutions to environmental problems
  •  Emphasizing ecological design methods while addressing environmental issues
  •  Developing environmental leadership skills and ways of becoming an effective advocate
  •  Cultivating an understanding of our individual and collective impacts on our environment
  •  Encouraging reflection on how one's academic discipline can inform an understanding of ecosystem function and contribute to environmental problem solving

The GreenHouse program engages students in a highly participatory, hands-on approach to learning and its learning objectives are achieved through a variety of ways:

  • Self-paced courses
  • Hands-on workshops
  • Discussions and lectures
  • Field trips
  • Service projects
  •  GreenHouse guilds
  •  Community celebrations

Ecological Citizenship: NR 16

Ecological Citizenship (NR 16) one-credit course that is taken by second-year students after successfully completing NR 15 during their first year as a GreenHouse resident. The Ecological Citizenship seminars provide students with valuable opportunities to participate in design-build projects using local materials and to work with community partners on real-world projects featuring valuable skills for success in a world of complex problems that require people of diverse backgrounds to work together.

With the mentorship of local craftspeople and community leaders, the NR 16 seminars are an introduction to woodworking, cooking with local foods, engaging in leadership on and off campus, practicing wildcrafting, and other traditional skills. Woven into this skills-based fabric are reflective opportunities to explore our individual identities and roles and what it means to be citizens within our communities... who do I want to be in this community? How do I cultivate the courage to act on my beliefs and create the world in which I wish to live? What can I contribute?

Students in each seminar submit reflective journal entries via Blackboard and write a final reflective paper. Additional assignments/projects determined by the individual seminar mentors may complement these core assignments. Students will be evaluated on the strength of their written reflections, the quality of products produced and overall participation.

GreenHouse Guilds

guild (gĭld) n.

    An association of persons of the same trade or pursuits.
    A similar association, as of merchants or artisans, in medieval times.
    (Ecology) A group of diverse species, especially animal species, that occupy a common niche in a given community, characterized by use of environmental resources in the same way.

As a member of the GreenHouse Community, you are invited to join learning groups known as "Guilds." Each year, the topical areas represented by Guilds are selected, developed and implemented by students within the program. By joining a Guild, you will have the opportunity to work closely with mentors and fellow residents as you acquire new skills and knowledge in an area of environmental interest.

Each Guild is organized by students and will have events scheduled throughout each semester, and will culminate in celebrations/presentations during community celebrations. Returning students will assume initial leadership roles in the guilds, but will work to engage the participation of first-year students as the semester unfolds. Faculty, staff, graduate students, and community members will serve as mentors.

Guilds offerings have included:

  • Art Guild
  • Bike Guild
  • Bread Guild
  • Cheese Guild
  • Compost Guild
  • Ecological Design Guild
  • Eco-Sew Guild
  • Food Systems Guild
  • Garden Guild
  • M.A.S.H. (Mushroom and Spore Hunters) Guild
  • Music Appreciation Guild
  • Oven Guild
  • Photography Guild
  • Tea Guild

Green Lifestyle

In addition to having the opportunity to participate in a wide range of exciting environmental programs, every member of the GreenHouse Community should be committed to pursuing a "Green Lifestyle." The elements of the Green Lifestyle are based on an Ecological Code of Values collectively developed and adopted by members of the community. GreenHouse Residential Learning Community members strive to:

Practice the 4 Rs, including:

  • Rethink: be creative and fun with eco-friendly alternatives
  • Reduce: only buying what I really need, minimizing use of disposable items (including shopping bags), sharing items with friends and neighbors, etc.
  • Reuse: swapping items with friends and neighbors, saving any “to-go” or food containers you might acquire, buying used, using scrap paper, etc.
  • Recycle: following UVM protocols as noted in recycling areas and not contaminating recycling bins with trash and vice versa.

Practice water and energy conservation and efficiency, such as:

  • Mindful water consumption (running water, full loads of laundry, shorter showers, etc.)
  • Mindful energy efficiency (using natural light, using efficient appliances, etc.)
  • Mindful energy conservation (air-drying clothes, turning off unneeded appliances, turning off lights, etc.)

Be aware of food choices, such as:

  • Eating in dining halls that use real plates and/or ecoware vs. takeout containers
  • Using refillable mugs and water bottles and reusable utensils ~ cloth napkins
  • Not wasting food ~ composting whatever is not eaten
  • Purchasing locally grown foods when off-campus and participating in our CSA program

Be mindful of transportation choices, such as:

  • Riding/walking when possible
  • Using public transportation (campus shuttle bus, free local buses, etc.)
  • Carpooling and using ride share board

Educate others: (family, friends, neighbors, etc.) about these issues; be willing to learn with an open mind

Take Initiative: Start or take part in any projects that in some way or another practice these values