Location & Contact

Where is Rieth Village located?

Rieth Village is located at 4415 W 200 S, Albion, IN 46701. Rieth Village is one of many facilities at the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College. Rieth Village is approximately 26 miles from Ft. Wayne, Indian and approximately 28 miles from Goshen, Indiana.

Note: The address above is not a mailing address. Please send any mail to
Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College
P.O. Box 263
Wolflake, IN 46796

How do I get to Rieth Village?

From Goshen or Fort Wayne, 
take US 33 from either direction to Wolf Lake. On the south edge of Wolf Lake take SR 109 south about one mile to 200 S. Turn right (west) on 200 S for one tenth of a mile. Turn left into the Rieth Village entrance.

From the Columbia City area, take SR 109 north to CR 425 W, make a left turn (west on to 200 S). Take 200 S for one tenth of a mile and turn left into the Rieth Village entrance.

Who should I contact to arrange a visit to Rieth Village?

It is best to schedule a tour if you are interested in interacting on details with a Merry Lea staff person. Detailed tours are given on the various aspects of sustainability and green design.

For PreK-12 field trips and public programs, contact Merry Lea at merrylea@goshen.edu

Is Rieth Village open to the public?

Yes! Visitors are welcome to visit Rieth Village on their own or join an upcoming event. Parking is available at Rieth Village for visitors looking at the buildings or on tours. In addition, visitors are welcome to hike or ski on Merry Lea’s eight miles of nature trails during daylight hours. The trails are easily accessible from trailheads at the Farmstead or the Learning Center.

How did Rieth Village get its name?

Rieth Village is named after Lee and Mary Jane Rieth, who cofounded Merry Lea in 1967. They had the vision for an environmental education program for people of all ages engaging with nature. They purchased all the land that makes up Merry Lea, formed a private nonprofit organization, and then donated the land to Goshen College in 1980.


How are the buildings at Rieth Village used?

Rieth Village is an ecological field station for undergraduate students participating in the Agroecology Summer Intensive, the Sustainability Leadership Semester, or May term courses. Rieth Village consists of one academic building (Oshtemo) and two residential cottages (Pewamo and Washtenaw). The academic building is home to a classroom, laboratory, and academic offices. The residential cottages are home to undergraduate students during their studies at Rieth Village. Summer researchers, farm interns, and guests attending an event here may also be in residence.

What research is done at Rieth Village?

Goshen College faculty conduct research projects at Rieth Village and the surrounding ecosystems at Merry Lea. Data logging equipment is also used to monitor various aspects of the buildings’ functions. This data verifies the energy conservation and energy production goals for Rieth Village. For more information about current field research projects, please visit the faculty pages of Ryan Sensenig and Jonathon Schramm.

Can I organize a retreat or family reunion at Rieth Village?

Rieth Village is primarily a collegiate facility. On rare occasions, the facility is available for retreats that include a focus on ecological studies and natural history.

My child is currently studying at Rieth Village and I would like to visit. Is lodging available close by?

The Kimmel House Bed and Breakfast on US Highway 33 is a ten-minute drive from Rieth Village.

Columbia City is a fifteen-minute drive South of Rieth Village. It also has lodging options. Try the Columbia City Quality Inn.


What programs are offered at Rieth Village?

Check to see what upcoming events are scheduled or contact: Merry Lea at merrylea@goshen.edu


I am a homeowner interested in building green. Can I take a tour of Rieth Village?

Yes! For a tour of Rieth Village, please fill out this request form. You can also take a virtual tour of Rieth Village here.

I am a teacher/educator. Can my class come to Rieth Village on a field trip?

Visit our Prek-12 Educational Programs page to view the full list of field trips offered at Merry Lea.

I work in a school with LEED certified buildings. Can I have a copy of your curriculum to teach my students about green buildings?

Yes! Merry Lea offers a free copy of our “Green Leaders Curriculum: Using America’s Green Buildings as Learning Tools.” This inquiry-based, interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to integrate concepts of green design and environmental issues into 6-8th grade classrooms. Contact Marcos Stoltzfus for a free copy.

I am a parent who home schools my children. Can my family come on a tour of Rieth Village?

Yes! Please contact merrylea@goshen.edu for information.

I am a Goshen College Student. How can I study at Rieth Village?

Learn more about Merry Lea and Rieth Village’s undergraduate programs Sustainability Leadership Semester and Agroecology Summer Intensive, or contact Tom Hartzell at tchartzell@goshen.edu for more information.

Can I participate in the Agroecology summer program even if I am not a Goshen College student?

Yes! Agroecology summer courses are offered as a certificate program to adults interested in formal learning about small-scale sustainable agriculture. Contact John Mischler for more information.

I am interested in earning a Master of Arts Degree in Environmental Education at Merry Lea. How can I apply?

You can view the admissions page for more information about applying to the Master’s Program, or contact Jason Martin at jmmartin@goshen.edu for more information.

Innovation and Design Process

When was Rieth Village built?

Construction for Rieth Village began in May 2005 and was completed in April 2006.

What is the building area of Rieth Village?

The building site for all phases of Rieth Village is 10 acres. Phase one (the current buildings, parking, and landscape) occupy approximately 5 acres. The total building area of Rieth Village is 9,960 ft sq.

Who designed and constructed Rieth Village?

Rieth Village was designed and constructed by a team of architects, engineers, and directors working in collaboration.

What was the Rieth Village project cost?

The cost of phase one included constructing infrastructure for future phases. There were no infrastructure components on site at the beginning of construction. The cost for constructing the three buildings was $158.90 per square foot. The typical cost for college dormitory space ranges from $185.00 to $210.00 per square foot. When the costs of the wind turbine, photovoltaic array, solar water heating system, and waste water treatment system are added to the costs of the building, the total cost per square foot is $211.62.

Rieth Village
Total Construction: $2,050,550.00
Cost per square foot: $211.62

Sustainable Design Strategies Included in the Total Construction Cost:
Wind Turbine: (10kW): $74,500.00
Photovoltaics: $41,230.00
Solar Hot Water Heater: $43,000.00
On-Site Waste Treatment: $352,071.00

Total Construction cost (less Sustainable Design Strategies): $1,539,749.00
Cost per square foot (less Sustainable Design Strategies): $158.90

Compare with traditional construction costs for our region of the country:
Wood-Frame Apartments: $100-$135 per square ft
Typical College Dormitories: $185-$210 per square ft

Although the initial building cost of Rieth Village is slightly more expensive than a typical construction project, the overall expense of Rieth Village during its life span will cost significantly less than traditional buildings, due to its sustainable design and energy-saving features.

Sustainable Sites

How was the site for Rieth Village selected?

Choosing the site for the collegiate facility was a long and careful process. Its current location gives the building occupants a convenient entrance from a county road and easy access to a prime outdoor classroom — the Kesling wetlands, prairies, and agroecology plots. Locating the building on the perimeter of Merry Lea’s 1,189 acres near land that is already developed allows the nature center’s more remote areas to remain undisturbed.

Water Efficiency

How does Rieth Village use rainwater?

The cottages at Rieth Village use low flow toilets and showers. In addition, all the rainwater is collected from the roofs and used for flushing toilets, laundry, hose bibs, and the greenhouse. While the rainwater is very high quality water, it is classified as non-potable since it is not treated or tested.

What features of Rieth Village help it conserve water?

Rieth Village buildings use low-flush toilets, and showers are installed with low-flow showerheads. In addition, a gutter system and permeable ground cover allow water to be collected and filtered through a cleansing biotope. Water is then stored in an underground cistern, from where it is pumped for use in the toilets and washing machines.

How does Rieth Village treat its wastewater?

All wastewater, after passing through a primary treatment tank (similar to a septic tank), runs through a submerged bed constructed wetland cell where native wetland plants take up nutrients and the bacteria slowly break down toxins (nitrates and nitrites). The treatment process continues in a recirculating sand filter where the water percolates through a bed of sand 4-foot deep up to six times before leaving the site.

Energy and Atmosphere

How does Rieth Village monitor its energy use and production?

Computers in the basement of the Oshtemo Academic building at Rieth Village contain computers that monitor the wind turbine and photovoltaic energy production rates.

How much energy do Rieth Village’s photovoltaic panels produce?

An array of photovoltaic panels, mounted on the collegiate facility’s south-facing roof, powers 13-15% of the buildings’ electrical needs. On a sunny day, the collegiate facility may be supplying power to the local electric company; in cloudy winter weather, it will need to draw on the electric company.

Twenty-four photovoltaic modules form a 4.8 kilowatt array on the south roof of Oshtemo Cottage in Rieth Village. Each panel can generate 200 watts of power at 56 volts DC.

How do Rieth Village’s photovoltaic panels make electricity?

Photovoltaic (photo=light, voltaic=electricity) panels convert the sun’s light energy into electricity. The sun’s energy arrives as light with a wide range of wavelengths, consisting of visible light, infrared radiation, and ultraviolet radiation. Using a mixture of silicone, phosphorous, and boron, the PV panels convert the ultraviolet radiation to a direct current that is sent to the basement of Rieth Village. An inverter in the basement converts the direct current from the PV panels to alternating current that can power the building or be sold to the electrical grid.

How does Rieth Village’s wind turbine work?

Rieth Village’s wind turbine works like a fan, but instead of using electricity to make wind, it uses wind to make electricity. The wind turns the blades, which are attached to a rotor. When the rotor turns, it causes a shaft to spin. The shaft is connected to a generator that makes a direct current (DC). The DC is then sent to an inverter in Rieth Village’s basement.

The inverter changes DC (direct current) coming from the wind turbine into AC (alternating current) which feeds into the electrical panel and powers the buildings. Excess power (electricity) is fed back onto the grid maintained by Noble REMC, the local utility.

To learn more about Rieth Village’s wind turbine, visit our History Slideshow: Wind Energy, or take the LEED Tour.

To view an animated wind turbine at work, visit the Department of Energy’s website.

How much energy does Rieth Village’s wind turbine produce?

Rieth Village’s 10kW wind generator is effective in any area that is not sheltered by hills and has a Department of Energy wind class of at least 2. All of northern Indiana fits this description. Rieth Village’s generator supplies 16-19% of the electricity needed for Rieth Village. Depending on wind resources at Merry Lea’s site, the generator produces approximately 14,000 kilowatts of electricity per year. At the current rate for electricity, the wind turbine has a payback period of over 25 years. A significant advantage of producing energy from wind and solar is that it reduces the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere.

What kind of HVAC system does Rieth Village use?

The buildings at Rieth Village are heated and cooled by ground source heat pumps. This technology consists of an electric pump and a network of pipes buried in the ground. The pump pushes glycol through these pipes where it is cooled in the summer or warmed in the winter. Unlike a furnace that creates heat by burning a fuel, a ground source heat pump works by transferring heat from the surrounding earth to heat a building, so it requires no gas or other fossil fuel to operate. Unlike an air conditioner that cools by transferring heat to the surrounding air, GSHPs cool by moving heat from within a building to the ground. Because the ground temperature is more constant than air temperature, it takes less energy to heat or cool a home using this technology. A ground source heat pump can cut the costs of heating and cooling a building by as much as 50%.

In addition to the ground source heat pump, Rieth Village also has operable sky lights to help reduce the cooling load on each building, fans to assist in air circulation, and windows that allow wind to enter the building to aid in cross-ventilation.

Where can I buy a wind turbine like this one?

You can purchase the BWC EXCEL 10 kW Wind Turbine from Bergey Windpower Company

What are Rieth Village’s other energy-saving features?

Reflective, white coated aluminum standing seam roof

Building envelope designed for energy conservation

Cupboards made of rapidly renewable and biodegradable materials

Flooring made of recyclable materials

Recyclable carpet squares

Solid surface countertops produced with lower environmental impact

Regionally harvested wood

Triple-glazed windows with argon gas

Rainwater collection system and cistern

Ground source heat pump

Wind Turbine

PV panels

Solar water heater



Bike racks


Cleansing Biotope

Underground Cistern

Wastewater treatment facility utilizing natural filtration technology

Energy-saving florescent and halogen light bulbs

Pervious concrete sidewalks

Landscaping that doesn’t require fertilizer or irrigation

Storm water runoff containment

Building orientation towards the sun

Water tank insulation

Ground Source Heat Pump (HVAC)

Recycled cellulose insulation

Lamp shades with open tops to spread light more efficiently

Synthetic decking material

Use of natural light

Fans and air circulation


Materials and Resources

Which materials used to build Rieth Village can be recycled?


Aluminum roofing

Carpet Tiles

Floor Tiles

Window panes


Synthetic Decking

Dry wall Material

Cellulose Insulation


How do I determine which products are truly “environmentally friendly” and where can I find them?

Savvy green consumers must have the tools to determine which products are truly environmentally friendly and which companies are “greenwashing,” the practice of using “green” as a dishonest marketing ploy.

The designers of Rieth Village examined each material individually to determine that it was in fact environmentally friendly. Several websites have been created to help consumers make environmentally sound choices. Check out: USGBC’s Green Home Guide

Indoor Environmental Quality

What features of Rieth Village improve indoor Environmental Quality?

An important aspect of improving indoor environmental quality is through the use of “low-emitting materials.” Many new buildings have a “new building smell,” which is the result of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are emitted as gases from certain liquids and solids and can be harmful if inhaled. They can come from paints & coatings, adhesives & sealants, carpet, and compound wood. Products purchased for the construction of Rieth Village were chosen specifically because they were no-solvent, low-VOC products.

LEED® Platinum Certification

What is the USGBC?

USGBC (United States Green Building Council) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works to promote the design, construction, and assessment of cost-efficient, energy-saving green buildings. The LEED certification system is a program that operates within the USGBC. For more information about the USGBC, visit their website.

What is LEED?

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building rating system.

“LEED provides third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.”

For more information about LEED, visit the USGBC website.

What does it mean that Rieth Village is “LEED Platinum Certified?”

LEED ratings are awarded on a point scale. A building project can earn points through various categories, which include Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation in Design. Rieth Village earned 55 points and was awarded platinum certification, the highest certification awarded by the USGBC. Rieth Village was the first building project in Indiana, and the 42nd building in the United States, to receive platinum certification.

The LEED point system at the time of Rieth Village construction (Version 2.1) is as follows:

Points Needed for Certification
Certified 26-32 total points
Silver 33-38 total points
Gold 39-51 total points
Platinum 52-69 total points

Points Possible in Each Category
Sustainable Sites: 14 possible points
Water Efficiency: 5 possible points
Energy and Atmosphere: 17 possible points
Materials and Resources: 13 possible points
Indoor Environmental Quality: 15 possible points
Innovation and Design Process: 5 possible points

What items are on the LEED checklist for certification?

Visit here to see the checklist and rating system that were used to keep track of points that earned Rieth Village its platinum rating.

Could Rieth Village have gotten points in other ways than it did?

Yes! One of the exciting aspects of green design is the unique and innovative thinking used to construct environmentally-friendly buildings. Although all projects have energy-saving and eco-conscious objectives in common, there are many paths to meeting these objectives, which means that no two LEED building projects are alike.

For example, when designers where considering which type of “cool roof” to put on Rieth Village, they had a choice of aluminum roofing, a vegetative green roof, and a variety of other options. Considering that Rieth Village’s water system was contingent on rainwater harvesting, the designers opted for aluminum roofing that would collect water for the cistern. In addition, Rieth Village wanted to install photovoltaic panels on the roof, which is difficult on a roof with vegetation.

The aluminum roofing chosen for Rieth Village saves energy by reflecting light from the sun and keeping the building cool, is recyclable, and allows for rainwater collection. Other green building projects with different goals in mind may opt for a green roof instead of aluminum, but both paths can earn points in the LEED certification process.

Why did Merry Lea seek LEED certification for Rieth Village?

It is true that buildings can be environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient without going through a third-party certification process. This is also the case for educational institutions: universities don’t need to have accreditation to offer good academics, but choose the value of an outside verification system. In the case of the green building industry, going through a third party evaluation system provides a standardized system for recognizing efforts in innovative green design. In addition, going through the LEED certification process makes the innovative design techniques used to design Rieth Village more readily available to other homeowners, builders, and colleges interested in building green.

Are there other LEED certified buildings in Indiana?

Yes. Rieth Village was the first platinum certified building project in the state. Currently there are two building projects with platinum certification in Indiana (Rieth Village and Sweetwater Sound, Inc.), and numerous other buildings that are certified, silver, or gold. See the list below for other projects in Indiana, or visit the USGBC website for a list of all projects in the country.