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Society & Culture - Science & Technology

Drexel Smart House Team Advises TEDxDrexelU on Creating Sustainable Events

September 24, 2013

TEDx community outreach project
The Drexel Smart House team collected 400 handprints on recycled materials which will serve as a collage at TEDxDrexelU

Students from Drexel University’s Drexel Smart House (DSH) team have been invited to serve as green consultants on the TEDxDrexelU event on Saturday, Oct. 5, in order to lessen the event’s environmental footprint.

Nineteen students from the DSH team – a student-led, multidisciplinary initiative that performs cutting-edge environmental research and design – have met weekly since July to explore ways to make the event more environmentally friendly in areas ranging from transportation to waste, promotional materials and décor.

The team’s recommendations include serving locally sourced food; using paperless advertising and program materials; reducing gas consumption and pollution by providing carpooling services and promoting public transit for all guests to and from the venue; using live flowers at the event rather than shipping internationally grown, cut flowers; purchasing carbon offsets for all travel made by the speakers; and using sensors to quantify water and electricity usage throughout the event so that future events can aim to reduce resources.

The diverse range of solutions will be compiled into a sustainability report which can be used by other event planners as guidelines for hosting a green event anywhere around the world. The report will highlight seven key areas of sustainability, including waste, travel, food, energy consumption, marketing, decoration and performance tracking.

TEDx community outreach project 

“The Drexel Smart House team’s commitment to smart design and technology made them the obvious choice for improving the event's environmental report card,” said Collin Cavote, creative director for the Drexel Smart House and an undergraduate student in the Pennoni Honors College. “One of the ultimate goals of this project is to help make sustainable events the new normal.”

The DSH team is also sponsoring a community outreach project. Drexel student volunteers collected more than 400 handprints traced onto recycled materials at GreenFest, the largest environmental festival in Philadelphia. The handprints will be turned into a collage in Drexel's Main Building (32nd and Chestnut Streets) where TEDxDrexelU will take place.

TEDx events allow thinkers and entrepreneurs to share their ideas through a combination of live presenters and TED Talks videos. The TEDxDrexelU event, entitled “The Next X”, will take place from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. in Drexel’s Main Auditorium in the Main Building. Tickets will be available for purchase at A simulcast of the event will be held in Mitchell Auditorium in the University's Bossone Research Center (3140 Market St.). It will also be webcast to 38 countries around the world.

Speakers will include John Langdon, an adjunct professor in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, who created ambigrams for novels by author Dan Brown; Paul Richards, former NASA astronaut and an alumnus of Drexel’s College of Engineering; Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of, a nonprofit organization working to promote encore careers; and Thom Nickels a Philadelphia-based journalist, poet, travel writer and author.

This event marks the second time a TEDx event has been hosted at Drexel. The previous event was held on May 16, 2012.

About TEDx
TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

About the Drexel Smart House
Drexel Smart House (DSH) is a student-led, faculty-supported, multidisciplinary initiative to develop a sustainable model for urban residential living and entrepreneurial innovation. Founded in 2006, DSH has since procured a 4,900-square-foot, 19th century Victorian twin home in Powelton Village, which will be renovated to redefine urban living through the use of sustainable technologies and dynamic environments. Founded in the Pennoni Honors College and currently housed in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, the project now engages students, faculty and staff from all of Drexel's colleges and schools. Participants conduct research and develop designs in the areas of environment, energy, interaction, health and lifestyle with the goal of improving quality of life in the urban residential setting. For more information, visit

Media Contact:

Alex McKechnie