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Creating a Sustainable Campus from the Ground up

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The newly developed Chatham University Eden Hall Campus, home to the Falk School of Sustainability and Environment is the first new university campus in the world to be built sustainably from the ground up, featuring full cycle water recycling, net positive energy production, and zero waste operations in an immersive living and learning environment that will ultimately house 1200 residential students. The first phase of construction—the first dormitory, a field lab and hoop house, café and dining commons with classrooms facilities designed to support 250 students—is complete and has been occupied since 2015. The campus is intentionally a work in progress, a place and object of inquiry, as the buildings, landscapes and infrastructure have been developed as an active research environment including building technology, renewable energy systems, sustainable agriculture and food systems, aquaculture, water treatment and nutrient recovery, watershed protection, soils, wildlife and habitat, etc. The campus cultivates a sense of wonder about the natural world, and invites mindful living as it engages daily awareness of how individuals and communities impact resources and living systems. This paper outlines the six-year long process of visioning and building the campus, and its initial occupancy. The challenges of building a new campus and working to realize high expectations are addressed, as well as the evolving student interest and awareness of this fundamentally different campus environment. Ultimately the completed campus provides a partial answer to the central research question of whether educational outcomes will be stronger and campus partnerships will be enhanced by this immersive living-learning environment that invites on-going sustainability research. The campus vision is bold, yet implementation takes time and perseverance, providing rich learning opportunities for students along the way.




Walker, P., & Mendler, S. (2017). Creating a Sustainable Campus from the Ground up. In World Sustainability Series (pp. 307–327). Springer.

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