In 1978, a small group of dedicated students saved the dilapidated Buck house on Humboldt State University’s campus from being demolished. With the support of HSU faculty and the community, the students began to remodel the house and use the house to experiment with appropriate technologies. In the summer of ’79 we acquired the house, remodeled and moved in, and in 1980 we became an A.S. program known as the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT). Over the years, the center incorporated a photovoltaic system, solar thermal system, greywater marsh, wind turbine, natural buildings, permaculture design, organic gardening, pedal-power machines, and much much more.

30 years later, the center has continued to serve as a living laboratory for experiential learning opportunities by designing, creating, and testing numerous appropriate technologies, green building designs, and sustainable living techniques. Directed and funded by students, the center functions as a live-in demonstration house and educational center.

Three student co-directors live in the house for a one-year term and direct the program and development of the house and grounds. The co-directors run a program that supports 18 student employees, teaches 8 classes, works with over 15 HSU classes, designs and implements appropriate technologies within the house and on the grounds, gives free tours and workshops, maintains an extensive resource library, and makes countless efforts to educate the public about the impacts of our technologies on the environment.

In 2004, the center and its grounds were moved from its location to accommodate for a new Behavioral and Social Sciences building on the Humboldt State University campus. The center was given a new site, slightly south from the original grounds. The Buck house was moved onto a new foundation and lower story. Students once again helped to remodel their beloved Buck house with appropriate and sustainable products and designs. The new lower story incorporated “new” green building features and supplied a space for the center’s library, classroom, and office.

Students lived in a temporary house during the move and construction. Functioning out of their temporary location, students worked on the new grounds and continued to teach classes, give tours and workshops, and educate the public. Students were able to move back into the Buck house during the summer of 2007.

Students have been working diligently to rebuild CCAT grounds and the appropriate technology systems that were dismantled or lost during the move. The move has given current HSU students an incredible hands-on experience of designing and implementing technologies in today’s world. The center’s 30th year is a testament to the dedication of students who believe in finding solutions to human and environmental problems through sustainable living.


For 30 years, the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology has been the place to learn about sustainable living. With the help of former CCAT co-director Sean Armstrong (a walking encyclopedia of CCAT knowledge), we take a look back three decades of highlights.

  • 1978 – CCAT starts as a YES House student initiative. For the next two
  • years, students work on securing the Buck House.
  • 1979 – Students install first solar hot water panels at CCAT.
  • 1980 – First students take up residence in Buck House. CCAT receives
  • its first energy retrofit, which includes insulation, a new roof and
  • upgraded plumbing and wiring.
  • 1980 – 1982  – Construction of CCAT’s original greenhouse.
  • 1981 – CCAT becomes an Associated Students program.
  • 1982 – Graywater catchment, a student-designed system to recycle used dish, shower, laundry and hand-washing water, is installed at the Buck House.
  • 1983 – CCAT begins its degree program, now known as Environmental Science.
  • 1984 – Appropriate Technology Transfer (CCAT’s newsletter) begins publication.  It is now one of Arcata’s longest-running publications. CCATalogue had preceded it as the group’s primary publication.
  • 1985 – Wind turbine is constructed.
  • 1986 – Pedal power starts at CCAT. It reaches its heyday in the early 90s when rows of energy-generating bikes power concerts, speeches and more.
  • 1991 – Students take CCAT off the grid with the installation of a second set of solar panels, obtained from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. CCAT would stay off the grid until 2001, when construction of the Behavioral & Social Sciences (BSS) building prompted them to tie in with an energy utility.
  • 1998-2003 – Construction of straw bale shed.
  • 1999-2002 – Biodiesel production days. Thanks to student ingenuity, CCAT was for a time the only place in Humboldt County to provide this renewable fuel.
  • 2004 – CCAT residents move to make way for the Behavioral & Social Sciences Building.  Their temporary residence is only a few feet from where the Buck House now stands, and heralded an era of increased community outreach for CCAT staff.
  • 2007 – CCAT moves back into the Buck House. The renovated facility includes a new ground floor, (the old house structure now makes up the second floor), plans for a new greenhouse, gardens, a graywater marsh and more.