Chatham goes 'green' at Eden Hall campus in Richland

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Geothermal wells at Chatham University's Eden Hall campus in Richland are ready to be connected to the buildings for which they will provide "green" heat.

Completion of the environmentally friendly system, which makes use of the natural warmth of the Earth, is part of the first phase of campus development. Other elements include field labs; an on-site sanitary sewer system; an aquaculture pond for raising fish; an outdoor amphitheater; and rain gardens and wetlands to capture stormwater.

All work in the first phase of campus development is on schedule for completion this fall, according to Bill Campbell, Chatham's vice president of enrollment and marketing.

Stage two of the project will include construction of two dormitories and a dining hall. Richland supervisors approved plans for those buildings last month. Groundbreaking is set for spring.

Plans also call for the conversion of an old dairy barn into a cafe and library.

About 65 students already are taking classes or doing related projects on the Eden Hall campus. The North Hills site is home to Chatham's School of Sustainability and the Environment. An existing lodge serves as classroom and office space. Located on Ridge Road, a half-mile north of Bakerstown Road, Eden Hall farm was given to Chatham in 2008 by the Eden Hall Foundation.

The 388 acres once belonged to Sebastian Mueller, a cousin of Heinz Co. founder Henry J. Heinz. After Mueller's death in 1938, the farm was converted into a place where female employees of the Heinz Co. could go for country vacations.

The environmental focus of the campus was chosen to honor Chatham alumna Rachel Carson. Ms. Carson, a 1929 Chatham alumna, often is described as a founder of the modern environmental movement. She is best known as the author of "Silent Spring," a book in which she made a case for the dangerous effects of pesticides on birds. "She has been a guiding influence and inspiration for all sustainability efforts," Mr. Campbell said. "Her work provides the spark that has pushed Chatham to be internationally ranked in that area."

Chatham was the only institution in North America to be honored by the International Sustainable Campus Network with an excellence award at its June meeting in Singapore, he said. University president Esther Barazzone was a featured speaker at the event.

The Eden Hall campus project has been designed to meet Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design "platinum" certification. The result is a 70 percent reduction in energy use when compared to traditional construction.

The 20- to 25-year development plan for the Eden Hall campus calls for it eventually to serve as many as 1,500 students in on-site classrooms, laboratories and via on-line work. Chatham's master's degree in sustainability will be expanded in fall 2014 with the addition of an undergraduate degree in the field.

Chatham's main campus is in Pittsburgh's Shadyside neighborhood and has no room for major expansion, Mr. Campbell said. The university also operates an "East Side" location on Fifth Avenue, near Bakery Square, for its graduate programs in health sciences.

"We are very excited about building a satellite in one of the fastest growing areas around Pittsburgh," Mr. Campbell said of the Richland campus.

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Len Barcousky: or 412-263-1159.


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