Chatham University will host a ribbon cutting for its brand new zero-emissions Eden Hall campus in the North Hills on Thursday.
“It’ll be a living-learning laboratory for sustainability, but it will also be a branch campus for the university in the North Hills, where we teach our full array of academic subjects,” said university President Esther Barazzone.
The campus will be fully self-sustaining, treating its own wastewater and producing energy through a variety of methods, with the greatest portion of the energy coming from solar panels on the roof of every building.
“We will be on the grid, but we will be producing more energy than we use,” Barazzone said. “However, being on the grid will let us smooth out our energy demands.”
Thursday’s tour will allow the public to get a behind-the-scenes look at the campus, which is still partially under construction.
“It’s exciting because some of the ground will still be open so you can see the tanks that are underground, for example, for storm water management,” Barazzone said.
Visitors will also be able to tour the agricultural facility, which produces much of the food necessary for the residence halls and other dining facilities.
“We’ll be doing water research as well as farming fish, which is a very important source of protein for cities for the future,” Barazzone said.
Barazzone stressed that the Eden Hall campus is meant to be a model for the cities of the future. She said we need to move toward more sustainable methods of energy and food production, as well as water usage and treatment.
“It’s very important in just about every dimension of human life for the future,” Barazzone said.
Naturally, the new campus will house Chatham’s School of Sustainability.
“It’s a very innovative, interdisciplinary program to produce professionals in the field of sustainability," Barazzone said. “It’s operating at a Master’s level now, and soon it will be operating at an undergraduate level.”
Thursday’s ribbon cutting will expand the research activities to include water, energy, and climate research, in addition to the ongoing agricultural research.
Once complete, the Eden Hall campus will serve 1,500 students daily. It is expected to fully open in the fall of 2014.