Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus to be a Leader in Sustainability

GBA’s staff members have been lucky enough to get a sneak peek at Chatham University’s new Eden Hall campus, which will be home to Chatham’s School for Sustainability and the Environment.  Several tours were offered, each focusing on a different topic.  Dana Snyder and I took a drive up to Eden Hall (an old farm which was gifted to the school) on one sunny Friday morning to learn about the school’s Food Studies program.

Leslie at Eden Hall

Dana and I donned our hard hats to check out the Eden Hall construction site!

What a beautiful way to start the day!  On this particular late September morning, it was sunny, clear, and a little chilly as we arrived on the farm.  Dana and I got there just in time to enjoy some coffee and meet a few new people before the presentation.  We were joined by some Chatham students (in both the Sustainability and Food Studies graduate programs), a local farmer, the manager of Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance, some Slow Food Pittsburgh reps, and a few faculty and staff members.

We sat in the living room of the campus’s Mueller house (a beautiful old farm house), with a fresh breeze coming through the open door as we learned about the future of this endeavor.  We viewed construction plans and learned about several components of the new campus, which will include a minimum of LEED Platinum certification for all buildings (and may also incorporate Passive House and Living Building Challenge).  This beautiful, bucolic site will eventually be home to 1,200 students.

We then got an overview of the school’s Food Studies program, which has already been active for a few years.  Students in this program are splitting their time between Chatham’s Pittsburgh campuses and the Eden Hall campus, which “provides a working environment with the practice and pedagogy of sustainable agriculture and culinary arts,” according to the Food Studies website.  Program director Alice Julier (who spoke at one of GBA’s Inspire Speakers Series lectures last year) shared examples of how her students are already interacting with the community and working to become tomorrow’s leaders in sustainable foods.

Following the presentation, we toured the campus garden – a beautiful bounty of amaranth (so cool!), flowers, vegetables, and even a few pumpkins!  Then we were off to tour the chicken coop and walk across the street to see the active construction site (hence the hard hats in our photos).  Finally, we soaked up some sun and fresh air before heading back to the office.

Group tour of the gardens at Eden Hall.

What a gorgeous morning to spend in the gardens at Eden Hall.

I consider our region very lucky to have so many universities focusing on sustainability and high-performance.  University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Slippery Rock University, Point Park University, and several others have been active in sustainability research, practice, and curriculum.  Chatham is already known for being a leader in this area: it’s been listed in the Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges, its Shadyside campus boasts the largest solar-thermal water heater installation in Pennsylvania, and it has long worked to honor the memory of alumna Rachel Carson through its environmental efforts.  The new campus at Eden Hall should launch Chatham to a whole new level of leadership in sustainability, and we at GBA are excited to watch its progress!

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