Garden of Eden: A major gift boosts Chatham's green campus

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When the first phase of construction of "green" buildings on Chatham University's 388-acre Eden Hall campus in Richland is completed this fall, it will be well on its way to becoming one of the most environmentally sustainable campuses in the country.

Eden Hall will have its own on-site sanitary sewer system and a network of geothermal wells providing green heat to buildings that will incorporate the latest in environmentally friendly technology. Aquaculture ponds for raising fish and a system for capturing stormwater runoff are just a few of the campus' green-oriented innovations. Every building and every patch of land at Eden Hall will be part of an experiment in sustainability.

It is impossible to expect such a visionary goal to be attained on the cheap. Because Chatham University is the alma mater of Rachel Carson, whose influential book "Silent Spring" launched the environmental movement half a century ago, there probably isn't a more appropriate mission for the 144-year-old institution.

Chatham President Esther Barazzone has worked hard to describe Eden Hall to potential donors, sharing her vision of a campus that will expend zero net carbon emissions using the latest in renewable technologies. Ms. Barazzone wants the campus to be a place where the practical and theoretical are test-driven by a community of scientists and students devoted to making the future greener, and thereby brighter.

On Thursday, Chatham University announced that the Falk Foundation is planning to direct the bulk of the foundation's wealth -- $15 million --to Chatham University. The donation, which coincides with the folding of the foundation, will be used to support Eden Hall Campus and its School of Sustainability & the Environment. It will fund building development and the expansion of the Rachel Carson Institute. It will also endow new faculty positions at Eden Hall.

Chatham couldn't have been more fortunate to have secured such a gift. The generous donation from the Falk Foundation will make an immediate difference in Chatham's long-range project to inspire and educate the next generation of Rachel Carsons.


First Published October 11, 2013 8:00 PM


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