Chatham Student Learns Sustainability With Hands On Immersive Experience

Posted in Uncategorized on October 23rd, 2013 by jeffdurosko – Be the first to comment

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Last summer, Ann Payne, Master of Sustainability ’14, immersed herself in a self-crafted adventure of active participation and learning from professionals and stakeholders in three pillars of sustainability: economics, environment and people/societies.

Growing up in Louisiana, the idea and practice of sustainability has always had a presence in her life and consciousness. She came to Chatham University to pursue her Master of Sustainability degree as part of a goal to making positive contributions to life on a finite planet. As part of her degree program, Payne took this summer to participate in a self-developed three-part program that spanned the country from west to east and into the Caribbean, all aimed at enhancing her education and experiences.

The Falk School of Sustainability at Chatham University  is housed at the University’s new Eden Hall Campus, functioning as a living and learning laboratory. Eden Hall will feature high performance green buildings and the latest in sustainable land, energy, and water management techniques

For Payne’s immersive experience, she started in San Diego, volunteering as a staff photographer for the world’s largest sustainable business conference, Sustainable Brands. The conference revealed the world of commerce’s take on the meaning of sustainability initiatives, and how they communicate to their customers through world class communications pieces. She found inspiration as she networked with some of the industry’s most inspiring businesses and individuals, while also attending plenaries and workshops and photographing conference events.

From there, Payne went back to Pittsburgh where she worked alongside Dr. Molly Mehling to construct photography field studios that would be effective for creating tack-sharp images of water macroinvertebrates. The images would be used for public awareness and education on how macroinvertebrates affect water quality monitoring.  The experience also gave her the opportunity to learn sampling methods.

Her final stop was spent in St. John, USVI where Payne taught art and sustainability to a group of 25 children, ages 3-13. That turned into a deeper opportunity as she was offered a position to begin constructing a social marketing strategy for Dr. Crystal Fortwangler’s film company, WiderAngle Productions.

Creating an understanding and appreciation for protection of natural resources, environments, and healthy lifestyles is Payne’s lifetime goal, and gaining a professional degree in sustainability has bolstered her sense of direction for this all-encompassing framework for life.

Chatham University’s Master of Sustainability degree provides the professional skills necessary to champion and implement sustainability, and the underlying academic knowledge to do so well. As part of the program, students are required to complete a 200-400 hour experience of immersion into a professional setting or field-based research setting.

Want to know more? Visit our Office of Sustainability and learn about our Campus Environmental Commitments.

Eden Hall Dorms: Student Housing Built to Passive House Standards

Posted in Uncategorized on October 9th, 2013 by jeffdurosko – Be the first to comment

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As the housing market is making slow limps back to health, green building is one of the segments driving the recovery of the industry.

Energy-efficient building programs have bolstered the green building market, a formerly niche construction market aimed at energy efficiency and environmental stewardship that has quickly become a booming industry. Data has significantly shown that the best green renovations are normally more cost-effective, sustainable and reduce overall energy cost.

Jerry Yudelson, a green building guru, has said, “The fact that green building continues to grow only demonstrates that it has become the new normal.”

Over the last 10 years, more than 15,000 buildings in Europe — from single and multifamily residences, to schools, factories and office buildings — have been designed and built or remodeled to the passive house standard.

The residence halls at Chatham University’s Eden Hall are scheduled to begin construction in 2014 and are planned to be built to Passive House standards. Eden Hall will function as a demonstration site, modeling a variety of building standards and new ways of sustainable living.

In order to ensure that what was being planned would be appealing to Eden Hall’s students, the administration and planners asked them to be involved in their own review and development process. From their feedback and involvement, decisions were made to make the rooms smaller, more efficient and more in-line with the sustainable sensibilities and more urban living environments today’s generation prefers.

Founded in 2007, the Passive House Institute US is an organization committed to making high-performance passive building the mainstream market standard. The Passive House concept represents today’s highest energy standard with the promise of slashing the heating energy consumption of buildings by an amazing 90%. Unity College created America’s first Passive House residence with their residence cottage, TerraHause, and has an interesting blog on their efforts as well.

To be certified as a Passive House, the Eden Hall dorms will be very well-insulated and virtually air-tight to minimize energy loss. Primarily heated by passive solar gain and by internal gains from people, electrical equipment and such, cooling will be controlled through shading and window orientation.

Working with natural resources, free solar energy is captured and applied efficiently, instead of relying predominantly on traditional systems to bring the dorms to zero energy consumption. Other Passive House standards include high performance triple-glazed windows, limitation of thermal bridging, and balanced energy recovery ventilation to make extraordinary reductions in energy use and carbon emission, while also providing remarkable indoor air quality.

Want to know more? Visit our Office of Sustainability and learn about our Campus Environmental Commitments.

Rachel Carson: A Legacy that went Against the Grain

Posted in Uncategorized on October 7th, 2013 by jeffdurosko – Be the first to comment

rachel-carsonHigh atop Woodland Dormitory at Chatham University sits the largest solar-thermal water heater installation in Pennsylvania. While this in itself is a prominent reminder of Chatham’s commitment to sustainable living and education through its new School of Sustainability and the Environment at the new Eden Hall campus, it also serves as a memorial to one of the school’s most prominent alumna.

Rachel Carson, a writer, scientist and ecologist, lived in Woodland during her time at Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham University) in the 1920s. At a time when women did not traditionally pursue an education past high school, Carson was light years ahead as a scholar and leader in ecological and marine studies.

Growing up in the rural river town of Springdale, Penn., Carson earned her bachelor’s degree in 1929, then went on to study at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, and receive her MA in zoology from Johns Hopkins University in 1932. This was quite a feat considering that over the previous decade women were finally given the right to vote and competed for the first time in Olympic field events.

Believe it or not, there was a genuine fear at that time that a good education would make a woman unfit for marriage and motherhood. In the 1920s when Eleanor Roosevelt’s daughter Anna enrolled for one year in Cornell’s School of Agriculture, her grandmother complained, “Girls who went to college were very apt to be ‘old maids’ and become ‘bookworms.’…a dire threat to any girl’s chance of attracting a husband.”

Carson went against the grain to be all she wanted to be, with a successful career that spanned decades. She was hired by the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries to write radio scripts during the Depression and supplemented her income writing feature articles on natural history for the Baltimore Sun. She began a 15-year career in the federal service as a scientist and editor in 1936 and rose to become editor-in-chief of all publications for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In 1952, after years of successful service to the government, Carson focused her blooming writing career on her love of the sea and eventually branched out to teach people about the wonder and beauty of the living world, the long term effects of pesticides, and developing policies to protect human health and the environment. Her groundbreaking 1962 book, “Silent Spring,” ignited the environmental movement.

It’s only fitting that in 1989, The Rachel Carson Institute (RCI) was founded at Chatham to provide research, education and outreach around clean air, pure water, fertile soil and biodiversity. Today, the RCI is part of the new School of Sustainability and the Environment at Chatham’s Eden Hall campus, a 388-acre community that embodies the commitment Chatham has made to support sustainability and environmental education. As an integral part of the school, the RCI will continue its focus on promoting Rachel Carson’s legacy through research, education and outreach.

Want to learn more? Visit The Falk School of Sustainability at Chatham University.

Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus to be Model for Sustainability and Environmental Education

Posted in Uncategorized on October 4th, 2013 by jeffdurosko – Be the first to comment

Chatham_AerialLocated on 388 acres in the fast-growing North Hills communities of Pittsburgh, Chatham University’s Eden Hall campus is the embodiment of a commitment Chatham makes everyday to support sustainability and environmental education, honoring the legacy of alumna Rachel Carson, class of 1929, one of the world’s most influential nature writers, ecologists and scientists.

In fact, the Eden Hall Campus is home to the  Falk School of Sustainability at Chatham University  and functions as a living and learning laboratory, where the campus doesn’t just house classrooms, but is the classroom. Eden Hall will feature high performance green buildings and the latest in sustainable land, energy, and water management techniques. By protecting valuable watersheds, incorporating surrounding land and agricultural resources, and rehabilitating existing farm structures alongside developing new, green buildings, Eden Hall will be a one-of-a-kind venue for education, conferences, community outreach, and ecotourism. The initial stage of construction consists of the development of field labs, classrooms, a café, an amphitheater, a mosaic garden, and infrastructure development to be complete by fall 2013. A dining hall and two residence halls are scheduled for completion in 2015.

Eden Hall will be the first community in the world built from “below the ground up” for the study of sustainable living, learning, and development. Self-sustaining in every way, Eden Hall is designed to one-day serve 1,500 students while emitting zero carbon emissions, producing more energy than it consumes and managing all storm and waste water on-site. Eden Hall will speed the Pittsburgh region’s emerging leadership in sustainability, energy and green building. It will serve as a living and working laboratory of ways that a small community can be more sustainable and focus on:

  • Improving air quality and reducing a community’s carbon footprint
  • Utilizing comprehensive on-site storm and wastewater management techniques
  • Modeling a diverse mix of energy generation including solar, geothermal and natural gas fuel cells
  • Developing new, green buildings while also preserving and updating older structures
  • Pursuing sustainable agriculture methods to produce food for the region

A charter signatory of the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment, Chatham University has a stated commitment to produce zero net carbon emissions by 2025. Through these efforts, the University has been able to increase square footage and enrollment by 36 percent and 45 percent, respectively, yet has reduced greenhouse gas net emissions by 68 percent since 2007.  Having recently received the Excellence in Integration award by ISCN (International Sustainable Campus Network), a Second Nature Climate Award and Sierra Club’s Top 25 Cool Schools, The Zero Net Carbon Emissions Project at Chatham exemplifies how the University has integrated the concept of sustainability throughout the University.

The Falk School of Sustainability at Chatham University has at its core a focus on research and problem-solving and offers a Master of Arts in Food Studies, a Master of Sustainability, an Executive Master in Sustainability Leadership, and, coming fall 2014, a Bachelor of Sustainability. Chatham has also established international partnerships with other universities, including EARTH University in Costa Rica, to connect physically and virtually students, faculty, professionals, and leaders from around the world right here in Pittsburgh in the study of sustainability.

History of Eden Hall

Sebastian Mueller (1860–1938) was a German immigrant who came to Pittsburgh in 1884 to work for his cousin, Henry J. Heinz. Mueller became Heinz’s second-in-command, managing manufacturing operations for what is now the H.J. Heinz Company, and later married Elizabeth Heinz. A tireless advocate for and supporter of working women, Mueller willed his entire estate, including Eden Hall Farm in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, to benefit women. The farm served as a resort and retreat destination for the women of Heinz until 2008, when Eden Hall Foundation gifted the land to Chatham; the University has long shared Mr. Mueller’s vision and devotion to enhance the lives of women through higher education.

 

 

Net Positive Energy: Eden Hall’s Charge in the Forefront of Climate Positive Goals

Posted in Uncategorized on October 3rd, 2013 by jeffdurosko – Be the first to comment

Chatham_NewLodgeIf you’re like most people, you have a certain day of the month that you sit down to pay bills – mortgage, car payments, credit cards, school. You may be thinking that we forgot to include utilities. Not so fast …

Some people make money from their utility companies by producing their own energy and selling back the unused portion, resulting in net positive energy consumption. Take for instance a group of more than 400 homeowners in Nashville, Tenn. They use solar power to generate electricity at their homes or businesses and get paid for it with the help of the Tennessee Valley Authority and local power distributors. Some residents have large enough arrays of solar electric generation panels that they get rolling credits on their electricity bill or year-end checks. One customer said that he keeps a rolling tally of credits that he eventually uses on hot summer days when air conditioning is a necessity, resulting in little or no monthly expenditure.

The savings are remarkable, but as you can expect, the cost to set up solar panels on a home can be quite pricey, upwards of $60,000 in some cases. But beyond the payments and credits back to the homeowner, these families may be eligible for a federal tax credit for using green technologies and other localized incentives. All in all, the investment can pay off nicely.

Chatham University’s Eden Hall is one of the only collegiate campuses in the world that will produce net positive energy. To create a climate-positive community, Eden Hall’s design features a diverse mix of transitional energy generation methods that include photovoltaic panels, an underground tubular conduit system to share heat energy, , geothermal, solar-thermal and natural gas fuel cells. Plus, we are the home to the largest solar-thermal water heater installation in Pennsylvania.

Eden Hall Campus with climate positive goals presents a unique opportunity to demonstrate the best emerging technologies for efficiency and renewable energy. Integrating these technologies into the campus’ built environment provides the greatest opportunity to reduce the overall campus energy footprint.

Isn’t it good to know that Chatham University is at the forefront of technology and sustainable living?

Want to know more? Visit our Office of Sustainability and learn about our Campus Environmental Commitments

Eden Hall: A Daily Immersion into Sustainable Living

Posted in Uncategorized on September 30th, 2013 by jeffdurosko – Be the first to comment

MAFSThere was a time when people living amongst nature, growing their own food, and using natural resources for everyday living were considered hippies, tree huggers, or some other less than flattering term. However, vast amounts of data is supporting the idea that going back to basics – with a modern, technologically advanced twist – is a necessity for our future.

Today’s generation of college student understands more than anyone that in order to have a healthy earth for years to come, something needs to be done now. They know that the case for sustainable living is making heads turn globally. Take for instance Chatham University’s Eden Hall.

Eden Hall is a next generation living laboratory where students not only study sustainability, but are immersed in it every day. Each inch has been carefully designed and built to function as part of the overall educational experience.

Students and faculty will live and learn in the landscape and interact in buildings that leave a net zero carbon footprint. The classrooms, café, amphitheater, gardens, meeting spaces and field labs form a model of advanced sustainability and net positive energy – meaning the campus actually produces more energy than it uses.

In addition, the campus will feature a student-run teaching garden; crop production for use in food studies and sustainability courses; and innovative research spaces and laboratories for studying such subjects as storm and wastewater management, agriculture, aquaponics, ecology and food science.

Students, faculty, staff and campus visitors will be able to hike eco-education trails, explore sustainable agriculture sites, and observe natural wastewater treatment systems in action. Eden Hall’s working organic farm will provide opportunities for Chatham to connect to the community through farm-to-school programs and partnerships with local farmers and nonprofits.

Eden Hall is, quite simply, a campus like no other and a full-time living experience that is educating our future leaders – and the surrounding community – in green and sustainable technologies.

Isn’t it great to know that the first academic community in the world built from the ground up for sustainable development, living and learning is right in your backyard?

Want to know more? Visit our Office of Sustainability and learn about our Campus Environmental Commitments.

 

 

Green Careers Trends Show Fast Growth and Great Pay

Posted in Uncategorized on September 24th, 2013 by jeffdurosko – Be the first to comment

SSE_950x400Let’s face it: Green and sustainable living is not a fad soon to fade. In fact, most experts agree that the trends for jobs with a sustainability education will continue to grow over the next decades. Those with an interest in pursuing careers within the field are seeing limited availability of programs that can position them with vast marketability to make them successful.

Chatham University, however, has evaluated the trends and was one of the first institutions of higher education to offer a number of degrees specifically targeted at these professionals. Plus learning on a ground-breaking andentirely self-sustaining campus gives students the extra benefit of living what they learn in real time and with hands-on experiences.

The Falk School of Sustainability at Chatham University is a pioneer in offering a Bachelor’s degree in Sustainability, a Master’s degree in Sustainability, a Master of Arts in Food Studies, and a fully online Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership. Each program is geared toward developing the knowledge basis needed to provide students with the tools they need to make an impact in the world.

According to the Green CareerCast Network (GCN) job seekers in the green fields will find higher pay and many opportunities. Even with the most recent economic recession, jobs grew. Between 1998 and 2007, green jobs increased by 9.1 percent, and another 8.9 percent growth spurt occurred between 2008 and 2009. The GCN goes on to say that “every one million dollars spent on earth-friendly enterprises creates 16.7 green jobs, compared to 5.3 fossil fuel jobs created per $1 million spent.”

It’s interesting to note that these jobs are not merely those that involved farming, but rather a vast amount are in manufacturing, where professionals are needed most in the production of electric vehicles, green chemical products, lighting, and solar and wind energy technology.

With the annual pay median at $44,000 – almost 14% higher than the entire national median for income – green careers are where the future lies.

Learn more about the Falk School of Sustainability at Chatham University and programs offered.

 

Simple Changes at Home that Make Big Changes in the World: Chatham U. and its New Eden Hall are Showing the Way

Posted in Uncategorized on September 18th, 2013 by jeffdurosko – Be the first to comment

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Green. Sustainable. Recycling. Reducing emissions. All of these are buzzwords that we’ve all heard for years. Yet do we really know what they mean? And how can we contribute in ways that make sense for our lifestyle?

In a nutshell, living green or engaging in sustainable living is a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the Earth’s natural resources and personal resources. It’s also a balance of personal, daily activities and nature, thus reducing how we exploit conveniences, many times, in ways that are harmful to the environment.

While recycling the obvious items like newspapers, bottles and cans is a great first step, there are simple things that we can do in order to build our sustainable lives that are easy fixes, and with a small amount of time, can easily become habit.

Take for instance some of the initiatives that Chatham University has put into play at the school. Eden Hall will be a living laboratory of interaction and effective use of innovative sustainable technology. Learning focuses will be in how we all can make small personal changes along with big technology advancements, and how the world is reusing old technologies – such as root cellars, landscapes for water management, and the like – to make a positive sustainable impact.

As such, Chatham has incorporated ideas into its day-to-day practices for students, faculty, and staff such as:

  • Conservation efforts and initiatives
  • Banning the sale of bottled water
  • Utilizing rain water
  • Using zip cars
  • Banning harmful herbicides and pesticides on campus
  • Using green cleaning supplies

Being green means saving money in many cases. If each of us were to employ some of these methods Chatham uses, we could:

Not only that, a new generation of green herbicides, insecticides and cleaning supplies is being developed every day that have the power to do the job, yet are gentle on the environment, animals, and those you love.

Start making simple changes today. Getting the whole family involved can make healthy, sustainable living chores habits in no time.

Want to know more? Visit our Office of Sustainability and learn about our Campus Environmental Commitments.


Zero Carbon Emissions: From Pittsburgh to the World

Posted in Uncategorized on September 13th, 2013 by jeffdurosko – Be the first to comment

Eden Hall_under treeAccording to an article from Cool Green Science (The Science Blog of The Nature Conservancy), in May, 2013, “Earth hit a long-awaited (and much dreaded) climate milestone: the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in the 55 years atmospheric CO2 concentrations have been measured.”

Although the reading was just for a single day — May 9 — even with substantial improvements in energy efficiency and conservation, atmospheric CO2 levels are expected to grow over the coming decades unless significant global steps are taking to stabilize them — among them, a large increase in zero-carbon energy production.

The question is, what will it take to achieve that increase? And who will be responsible for it?

The obvious targets surround things like wind and solar energy storage, zero-carbon transportation such as electric vehicles, and alternative energy technologies such as geothermal, wave energy, and micro-hydro. Yet because these are the things that most of us can’t touch and feel, our expectations go back to the idea that the job is for someone else to figure out.

By and large, it is the local communities and their combined innovative momentum that can lead in new ways of thinking and doing business. For example, as a charter signatory of the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment, Chatham University has a stated commitment to produce zero net carbon emissions by 2025. Through our efforts, Chatham has been able to increase our square footage and enrollment by 36 percent and 45 percent, respectively, yet we have been able to reduce greenhouse gas net emissions by 68 percent since 2007.

Having recently received the Excellence in Integration award by ISCN (International Sustainable Campus Network), a Second Nature Climate Award and Sierra Club’s Top 25 Cool Schools, The Zero Net Carbon Emissions Project at Chatham exemplifies how the university has integrated the concept of sustainability throughout the University.

The school’s commitment to being carbon neutral means that anything built moving forward must not add to the carbon footprint. This initiative is taken seriously, and our new campus Eden Hall will make Chatham the largest university by acreage in Allegheny County but will add nothing to our overall carbon emissions.  The first fully-aligned campus and program in the world to integrate sustainable development, living and learning from “below the ground up,” Eden Hall will be self-sustaining in every way by emitting zero carbon emissions, managing all waste and storm water on-site and producing more energy than it consumes.

Making a difference starts at home and in our communities. Isn’t it good to know that you’re a part of the solution?

Want to know more? Visit our Office of Sustainability and learn about our Campus Environmental Commitments.