April 4, 2013, 3:16 pm
Colby College has achieved what only a handful of other higher-education institutions have done so far: The college has met its goal in the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and declared itself climate neutral. That means—essentially, with some caveats—that the college has zero greenhouse-gas emissions.
After signing the climate commitment, Colby set a goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2015—a date far sooner than most other institutions that had signed. Only three other colleges have achieved climate neutrality under the commitment: the College of the Atlantic, Green Mountain College, and the University of Minnesota at Morris. (However, the College of the Atlantic may no longer be climate neutral—more on that below.)
Meeting the climate commitment involves certain costs. Colby started purchasing renewable electricity in 2003 at a premium that…
January 30, 2013, 4:56 am
Unity College announced on Tuesday that it would make climate change and countering climate change the central focus of its curriculum.
“Unity College’s focus is timely given the priority that President Barack Obama placed on the mitigation of global climate change during his second inaugural address,” the Maine college said in a news release. “Severe weather events from the devastating flooding in New York to record high temperatures across the globe have spiked public interest in the subject.”
The announcement gave few details, however, on how the new curricular focus would take shape at the college, or change what Unity already does.
With the rise of sustainability programs in higher education in recent years, the tiny college has garnered attention for its environmental programs. Unity made another splash recently when it announced it would drop its investments in…
January 28, 2013, 3:12 pm
The College of New Rochelle, which opened a $28-million wellness center (above) in 2008, could be one example of what researchers describe as institutions caught up in an amenities arms race. Credit: ikon.5 architects
For the past 15 years or so, colleges have experienced a tremendous building boom, and the most publicized aspects of the boom have been the amenities: the climbing walls, the swank student unions, and the luxury dorms.
Even in the midst of a national financial crisis, the buildings seemed to get more opulent. The Wall Street Journal, for example, recently noted the “resort living” on college campuses. A new residence hall at Saint Leo University, in Florida, features a 2,100-gallon aquarium, a relaxation room with futuristic “spherical nap pods,” big-screen televisions, and more, according to The Tampa Tribune. …
October 29, 2012, 4:56 am
(Updated on 10/29/2012 to note the family’s intent to appeal.)
A state judge in Montgomery County, Md., has ruled against a family who sued the Johns Hopkins University, seeking to block it from developing land that the family had sold to Hopkins in an effort to preserve it from rampant development.
Elizabeth Banks sold her Belward Farm to Johns Hopkins in 1988 at a tenth of the land’s value, with the understanding that the land would be used to build a campus. But the family of Ms. Banks, who died in 2005, says Hopkins’s current plan for 4.7 million square feet of development defies what she had intended. Her family was supported by neighbors, who were concerned about the traffic that the increased development might bring and offended by what they saw as the university’s disregard for Ms. Banks’s intentions.
The university maintained that the deed did not bar the planned…
October 21, 2012, 1:28 pm
Students guide the oxen Bill and Lou, pulling a mower in healthier days (Green Mountain College image).
A couple of years ago, I visited Green Mountain College and toured the Vermont college’s post-petroleum farm, which instructs students in ways to conduct agriculture without fossil-fuel inputs. That means that animals do a lot of work on the farm, and the most essential of those animals were a pair of oxen, Lou and Bill. They were magnificent creatures—an embodiment of power, with long horns and formidable muscle under coats the color of creamed coffee.
My tour guides, Dayna Halprin and Laura Wolfgang, and I began talking about the fate of the animals on the farm. They are sent to slaughter or, as Ms. Wolfgang described, sometimes slaughtered by students themselves. As I recall, Ms. Halprin was a vegetarian…
September 11, 2012, 11:36 pm
Tory Gattis, over at the other Chronicle (in Houston), has an idea for a prime piece of real estate in that Texas city. The 136-acre parcel—which is being sold by the engineering and construction company KBR—is near downtown, sits along the Buffalo Bayou, and has plenty of opportunities for green space. (See the red circle on the map below.)
“This parcel of land could be the last opportunity for Houston to add a major college campus to the city,” Mr. Gattis writes, noting that Houston has fewer colleges than many other major cities.
“We should consider something similar to what NYC just did with Roosevelt Island, where after a long evaluation process they awarded it to Cornell for a technology campus,” Mr. Gattis argues. “Of course the City of Houston doesn’t own the land, but it could be a facilitator … to open discussions with the landowner and various universities to…
September 6, 2012, 5:37 pm
Two items of solar news affecting mid-Atlantic colleges have emerged lately—one good, one not so good.
In the good-news category, Maryland’s governor, Martin O’Malley, wielded a big pair of scissors for a ribbon-cutting last week at Mount St. Mary’s University, where he celebrated the installation of a 16.1-megawatt solar field. The field, as you can see, is vast, comprising 220,000 panels on 100 acres of land owned by Mount St. Mary’s.
Constellation Energy owns and operates the field, and has leased the land from the university. The company developed an additional 1.6-megawatt system on the site that will supply power to the campus.
In the not-so-good-news category, neighbors of Mercer County Community College, in New Jersey, have filed a lawsuit to stop a 45-acre solar project on that campus, reports The Times of Trenton. The neighbors argue that the eight-megawatt project…
August 28, 2012, 10:54 am
As you know, we here at The Chronicle’s Buildings & Grounds blog are not big believers in “best” or “top 10″ lists. But when this list of the “top 10 college towns of 2012″ arrived in my in box this morning, I couldn’t resist passing it along.
In doing so, I’m not saying the list is definitive—it’s put together by a publication called Livability, which I have never heard of. But I thought it would spur conversation about everyone’s favorite college towns.
And for starters, we need a basic definition of a college town. “True college towns are places where the identity of the city is both shaped by and complementary to the presence of its university, creating an environment enjoyable to all residents, whether they are enrolled in classes or not,” Livability’s editors write. “They’re true melting pots, where young minds meet old traditions, and political, social, and cultural ideas …
August 27, 2012, 2:50 pm
The Los Angeles Community College District will restart its $6-billion construction effort, after a long moratorium following questions about the district’s construction contracts and spending, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The construction program had been derailed by an 18-month investigation by the Times, which showed that the district had wasted millions of dollars on poorly planned projects, in blunders that included significant errors in construction, the hiring of trustees’ relatives, and contracts with third-party contractors who tacked on millions in added costs. After the newspaper’s investigation, the state controller’s audit found that the district had wasted up to $140-million in taxpayer money and “could not produce complete and timely records, spent funds outside voter-approved guidelines, ignored its own procurement rules, failed to plan effectively, and provided poor…
August 22, 2012, 12:12 pm
For nearly a decade now, the University of Southern California has had a major construction plan in the works—a plan that would pump about $1-billion into a rundown area near the campus, transforming it into restaurants, shops, office space, and student housing. But residents of the area have protested the plan, arguing that it would displace the low-income families that have lived in the neighborhood for a long time. (Click here to listen to a debate about the gentrification issue on Los Angeles public radio.)
Now a committee of the Los Angeles City Council has responded to the protesters, putting the university’s project on hold and asking USC for more information about the displacement of residents in similar university projects across the country, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Times says the university offered $2-million to support low-income housing in the…