In response to a trend of increasing enrollment and the popularity of campus living, Unity College will soon begin construction of a 70 bed, suite style residence hall.
Constructed to meet LEED Silver standards, the approximately 18,000 square foot, $4.2 million hall will house about 70 students and is expected to be ready for occupancy during the fall semester. Designed by SMRT Inc. of Portland, Maine, it will be located just within the tree line adjacent to the soccer field.
“As with all of our campus improvement projects, we listened to the needs and preferences of students,” noted President Stephen Mulkey. “This comfortable residence hall will have the amenities that our students have told us they want, and it will also provide features like wireless technology throughout that support study and experiential learning.”
Daniel LaForge, Director of Facilities and Public Safety, and Stephen Nason, Director of Residence Life and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, have been involved in the planning process since its inception. Student comfort was a priority.
“This residence hall will provide more square footage per student than any other residence hall on campus,” noted LaForge.
Nason is pleased that the hall will lessen pressure throughout the housing system, and its focus on the needs of upperclassmen is ideal.
“Suite style housing is ideal for juniors and seniors,” Nason said. “It provides the amenities they want.” Nason says that the goal of residence life is to eventually have 80 percent of the student body living on campus.
Green features have been integrated into every aspect of the design. The suite style residence hall will house five students to a suite. There is also one double suite. Low flow water devices will control showers, faucets, and toilets throughout the building. Higher than average insulation levels in the exterior walls are expected to provide R-30 value and R-50 value for the roof, both superior levels by even stringent green standards. The south facing roof will have a solar array and the building will be the third on campus heated by wood pellets.
Each suite will have a kitchenette consisting of a counter with space for a microwave and a sink for washing dishes. An efficiency apartment will have a full kitchen with connections for an additional kitchen in the common space.
Leading-edge technology will be integrated into the hall. A fiber optic line will be run to the residence hall and the building will have wireless connectivity throughout.
In 2013, Unity College was able to increase its incoming class by 16 percent over 2012. Growth of the student body is expected to continue. With 70 percent of the entire student body choosing to live on campus, the College placed a priority on expanding its campus residential facilities.
The mix of “green” living options and full slate of campus activities have made living on campus the most desirable option for a majority of students. The living preferences and environmentally focused values of Unity College students have informed projects.
“A campus at residential capacity is an indication of student satisfaction and strength of Unity’s social community,” says Dr. Melik Peter Khoury, Senior Vice President for External Affairs.
Students began the 2013-14 academic year on a campus that well serves both academic and community needs. Thirty facility improvement projects were completed over the summer alone, including the renovation of three science laboratories. Khoury says that other projects to enhance the campus beyond the building of this residence hall in service to Unity College’s mission are anticipated in the coming years.
In recent years Unity College has gained national attention for a variety of achievements including for its focus on sustainability science, the leading-edge of 21st century ecological problem solving and the vanguard in the fight for the mitigation of global climate change; its ground-breaking green innovations such as the award-winning TerraHaus, the first student residence on a college or university campus built to the Passive House standard, the most energy efficient building standard in the world; and being the first college in the United States to divest from investments in fossil fuels, igniting a growing national movement in higher education. In 2013 the College received 10 year accreditation by The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the highest level of accreditation given by that organization.
Through the framework of sustainability science, Unity College provides a liberal arts education that emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Through experiential and collaborative learning, our graduates emerge as responsible citizens, environmental stewards, and visionary leaders.