Dr. David Riley, solving sustainability challenges around the world
When Penn State wants to take steps to enhance campus sustainability efforts, help is fortunately no farther away than the office of Dr. David Riley ’94.
After graduating from Penn State, David spent six years teaching sustainable construction and green building design at the University of Washington. He returned to Penn State in 2001, making an immediate impact on the community. As an associate professor in architectural engineering, he established the American Indian Housing Initiative, an integrated research and education program focused on sustainable housing. This multidisciplinary collaborative effort engages students, volunteers and tribal partners in sustainable building methods and home energy efficiency to address housing challenges facing American Indian and other low-income rural communities.To date, the program has constructed seven demonstration homes and learning centers aimed at advancing sustainable housing in tribal communities.
David is passionate about developing lasting and scalable programs that provide students with one-of-a-kind learning experiences. In 2009, he began a new hands-on course in which a group of Penn State students traveled to Roatán, Honduras to install a 2.5kW solar photovoltaic system on a school. In 2011, the program installed a second system that generates the electricity needed to run a community well, making fresh water affordable and available to the entire community of Consolation Bight. Now known as Renewable Energy for Central America (RECA), the award-winning student service program continues to help mitigate the health, social and economic effects of unreliable and expensive carbon-producing energy. Through support from the ELECTRI International Foundation, the RECA program is now being adopted by other universities that will install similar systems in Belize and Costa Rica. And, in 2013, the RECA program will be coordinated with an alumni tour to Roatán that will enable Penn State alumni to work side-by-side with students on the construction of a new solar array serving a daycare center.
Finally, as the executive director of Penn State’s Center for Sustainability, a University-wide center focused on the engagement of students in sustainability challenges, David spearheads innovative ways of integrating sustainability across Penn State’s colleges and campuses. These efforts have led him to be funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop integrated workforce and education programs in the fields of energy efficiency, solar, wind and smart grid technologies.
Most recently, David helped coordinate the development of the new minor in Sustainability Leadership, which is now available to students in all majors at Penn State. His dedicated efforts to live Penn State’s values of teaching, research and service make him a truly invaluable resource to the student community.