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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Campus planning for a greener future

This past Monday, a representative of Shepley Bulfinch presented four proposed campus plans that will guide the construction of a number of new buildings here on campus. The proposed new buildings will provide new classrooms and library space, house the new Center for Social Inquiry and Media Lab, and expand spaces for the reading and writing labs. These buildings, according to the college, will provide facilities for valuable campus services and could be a welcome addition to campus life.

However, we’re surprised to learn that a college that has, over the last year, stressed the instability of its financial situation continues to move forward on these large-scale projects. While we are troubled by the fact that the administration has undertaken this construction project at the expense of drastically more important measures like financial aid and scholarships, we acknowledge the potential benefits these spaces proffer. Considering this fact, continuing with the project should necessarily include the commitment to highly efficient designs that reduce resource consumption and limit environmental impacts. This college has already seen the folly of counting on a prosperous future and consequently withholding endowment spending, and one of the best ways to ensure the long-term financial stability of the college is to be conscious of limiting operating costs.

Further, the college has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions below 2010 levels by forty percent, and if these construction projects go forward, the college may lose out on the opportunity to meet that goal unless the buildings are highly efficient. Achieving these levels of efficiency will mean more than simply tacking on green features at the end of the design process. It is necessary to prioritize the efficiency and environmental sustainability from the very outset of the planning stage. For these reasons we hope that if and when the administration moves forward on these construction projects, it requires the architect to prioritize the efficiency of the buildings in their initial layout and design.

Besides insisting on efficient architecture, one way to ensure that the buildings truly meet the needs of the college is to involve the campus community in all stages of the planning of the projects. Too often this administration has failed to effectively realize such opportunities and as a result has seen the distrust and ineffective design that can rise out of such shortcomings. Those who will use the space in the future can say best what features will most adequately serve their needs.

—Nathan Pavlovic ’10 and Caitlin Vaughan ’10

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