The campus of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture RICA is an undergraduate institution in practical agriculture located in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. The institute’s core mission is to prepare the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders with practical skills to contribute to modernized and sustainable agriculture. It is expected that all RICA graduates will be innovative problem solvers able to operate farms and ranches, start agribusinesses, assume management roles in cooperatives and other agriculture enterprises, serve their communities as extension agents, technical and policy experts.
Transsolar’s role in the project was to make the entire campus as low energy and resilient as possible since the school relies on its own photovoltaic array (1.5MW peak power output) for electricity. All the buildings on campus (classrooms, laboratories, residences and animal barns) have been designed to be fully daylit so that no electric lighting is needed during the day. Additionally, the form, orientation and materials of each building have been specifically optimized through simulation so that the spaces will be comfortable with good air quality year-round using only natural ventilation.
The institute has the quality of a model for sustainable building, as the campus is expected to meet the predicate "climate-positive" before 2040, when it will store more CO2 than the buildings' operations and ecological footprint make up. This is made possible by using local materials such as rammed earth and dried adobe for construction, and on-site reforestation. The solar array island system provides 3,775 megawatt-hours of renewable energy annually and will meet all of the building's electricity needs.
MASS Design Group engages in building design, research, policy, education and strategic planning. Since designing and building the Butaro District Hospital in Rwanda in 2008, their work has expanded to more than a dozen countries in Africa and the Americas.