In 2016, the center broke ground on its most comprehensive construction project to date: a residential training center located in Kamuli District. The multi-purpose facility opened in 2018 and provided an important venue for all Iowa State and Makerere University student and staff activities. The center serves as a community training and demonstration center, allowing the programs to better serve the stakeholders in Uganda.
The training center’s design incorporates environmentally sustainable development principles such as rainwater harvesting, solar water heaters, solar panels to generate electricity, natural passive ventilation, share trees in place of air conditioning and waste water recycling including two constructed wetlands. Facilities include a dormitory, kitchen, multipurpose training room, office space, demonstration areas and outdoor recreation facilities that are open to the community.
The center would not have been possible without the generous support of several lead donors, in addition to many service-learning alumni and other contributors who respond to a successful crowdfunding campaign through the Iowa State University Foundation.
To reduce our carbon footprint the design of the Mpirigiti Rural Training Center includes a number of environmentally sustainable features including:
- Conserving Water
- Rainwater harvesting: Rainwater is collected on all major roof surfaces and flows by gravity to our 40,000 liter tank farm for use as drinking water (after being processed by our water purification system) as well as for bathing.
- Waste water recycling: The center processes waste water through an anaerobic bio-digester and through the use of twin constructed wetlands, using natural processes for cleaning up waste water before returning it to the environment for re-use.
- Saving Electricity
- Solar water heaters: Water is heated by the sun for use at all residential buildings using roof mounted solar water heaters.
- Photovoltaic panels: Photovoltaic panels collect energy from the sun and convert it to electricity, supported by a rack of batteries for storing power. The electricity generated powers all security lights and most office equipment.
- Ventilation: Natural passive ventilation, ceiling fans and shade trees are used to keep rooms comfortable, avoiding the need for energy consuming air conditioning.
- Buying Local
- Use of local building materials: Using local materials supports the Ugandan economy while reducing transport costs. Example: 30,000 compressed earth blocks were made using innovative, muscle powered technology and soil from our property (saving approximately 42 tons of firewood since these blocks were not fired).
- Use of local technical expertise and labor: Use of local architects, engineers, and contractors insured that professionals familiar with Ugandan conditions were in charge of the project. Use of these experts as well as the use of local labor supports the Ugandan economy.
- Furniture and furnishings: The majority of the furniture and furnishings were sourced locally which supports the Ugandan economy and reduces transport costs.
- Fresh produce: Gardens and orchards on the property will supply fresh produce without any transport costs.