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Setting the Stage to Evaluate Performance: Chatham's Eden Hall Campus

Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus will be the first sustainable university campus built from the ground up and the home of the university’s new School of Sustainability and the Environment. As part of the 2012 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program, researchers at Chatham are working with designers at Mithun to collect baseline data and setup research protocols to evaluate landscape performance over the long-term.

The research is led by Molly Mehling, PhD, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Sustainability, working with student Research Assistant Kaitlyn O’Neill and collaborating with faculty from a number of disciplines. The research team will collect background and baseline information, outline the expected landscape performance benefits, and develop protocols that Chatham can use to measure them over time.

csi-chatham1Eden Hall Campus Phase 1 (Mithun)

The Eden Hall Campus encompasses 388 acres in Richland Township, about 20 miles from downtown Pittsburgh and Chatham’s main Shadyside Campus. The Master Plan for the site, which incorporates state-of-the-art sustainable technology rooted in the principles of permaculture, biophilia and integrated watershed planning, was done by Berkebile Nelson Immenschuh McDowell (BNIM) and Andropogon Associates and approved in June 2011. Mithun is providing architecture, landscape architecture and interior design for the first phase of the campus (~100 acres), with construction slated to start this summer.

csi-chatham2Rendering of New EcoCenter (Mithun)

The Phase 1 landscape will incorporate SITES best practices and advanced green infrastructure systems such as raingardens, constructed wetlands, composting toilets, geo-exchange systems, food production and aquaculture systems. The design will preserve and protect soils and support habitat for forest, meadow and agricultural areas. Rainwater catchment and treatment will reduce potable water needs for the project, and wastewater will be treated and dispersed on lot, with reuse of appropriate elements as fertilizer and soil enhancement. Phase 1 also includes 18,000 sf of classroom, office, library, café, lab and gathering space. Each building is designed to meet a combination of Living Building Challenge, Passive House, Net Zero and LEED Platinum ratings.

While the CSI program typically focuses on quantifying the benefits of built landscapes, this collaboration is being used to test and develop guidance for those at the stage in the design and construction process in which there is a completed design that has not yet been built. As part of their CSI work, Molly and Kaitlyn will develop a set of guidelines for designers, clients, academics, and other stakeholders who want to set up longer-term research to evaluate a project’s performance. LAF is thrilled to be part of this collaboration and to help set the stage for years of innovative research on the benefits of landscape at this model campus for sustainable learning and living.

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