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Chatham gets Richland's OK to build residence hall, cafeteria at Eden Hall campus

| Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

A residence hall and cafeteria are coming to Chatham University's 388-acre Eden Hall campus in Richland.

Richland supervisors voted June 18 to approve a developer's agreement that permits Chatham to construct the two buildings and connect them to public sewer lines.

The developer's agreement also bonds Chatham to rehabilitate Ridge Road between Kim Lane and Glasgow Road — a project estimated to cost $418,242.

“It contains all the details, like the bonding requirements,” Chatham University spokesman Walter Fowler, vice president for finance and administration, said about the developer's agreement.

The proposed 67-bed, three-story dormitory and separate cafeteria — actually part of a “commons” building with classrooms — are among a number of projects planned for Chatham University's latest phase of development for its Eden Hall campus, which straddles Ridge Road.

Chatham officials expect the residence hall and multipurpose building to both earn top-tier, platinum-level certification for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, or LEED, from the U.S. Green Buildings Council.

A new bikeway, separate but parallel to Ridge Road, is another project in this construction phase.

A hole in the ground for the new commons building already is visible.

“The commons building is one story above ground and one story below ground,” Fowler said.

The building will include a cafeteria-type kitchen, multipurpose space for dining, a root cellar and a classroom with tiered seating for video conferences.

Electricity-producing solar panels will be installed on the roofs of both the residence hall and commons building.

The commons building also will get rooftop, box-like fuel cells for chemically converting natural gas into electricity.

“It's a very sustainable way of creating electricity,” Fowler said about the fuel cells. “Eventually we hope to convert those from natural gas to bio-gas.

“When we get animals out there, we'll be able to compost the waster from the animals … and that can be used as fuel for these things (fuel cells),” Fowler said.

Chatham expects to complete construction of the new residence hall and commons building by August 2015.

Projects already completed on the Eden Hall campus include an amphitheater, field laboratory with tanks for tilapia farming and a student café in a former dairy barn.

In 2008, the Eden Hall Foundation donated the former Eden Hall estate of late H.J. Heinz executive Sebastian Mueller to Chatham University for its new School of Sustainability and the Environment.

“This fall, we're admitting the first undergraduate students to our sustainability school,” Fowler said. Chatham officials expect to initially welcome 12 to 14 students for the school's four-year program for a bachelor's degree in sustainability, Fowler said.

“We really need residence-hall space and this commons building to activate the campus,” Fowler said. “We'll have students living there in the fall of 2015.”

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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