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Chatham University's Richland campus adding students, programs

| Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, 6:09 p.m.
A view of one of the residence halls on Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus in Richland on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. A second residence hall will be constructed on the other side of the building.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
A view of one of the residence halls on Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus in Richland on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. A second residence hall will be constructed on the other side of the building.
Bill Campbell, vice-president of marketing and communications for Chatham University, and Catherine Giles, 23, of Washington, Pa., a graduate student in the sustainability program, talk about the geothermal heating and cooling inside residence hall on the college's Eden Hall Campus in Richland on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
Bill Campbell, vice-president of marketing and communications for Chatham University, and Catherine Giles, 23, of Washington, Pa., a graduate student in the sustainability program, talk about the geothermal heating and cooling inside residence hall on the college's Eden Hall Campus in Richland on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015.
Roy Weitzell, Aquatic Labratory Director in the Falk School of Sustainability, talks plans to grow rainbow trout inside the Aquiculture Lab on Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus in Richland on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
Roy Weitzell, Aquatic Labratory Director in the Falk School of Sustainability, talks plans to grow rainbow trout inside the Aquiculture Lab on Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus in Richland on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015.
Catherine Giles, 23, of Washington, Pa., a graduate student in the sustainability program, talks about vegetables growing inside the hoophouse on the college's Eden Hall Campus in Richland on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
Catherine Giles, 23, of Washington, Pa., a graduate student in the sustainability program, talks about vegetables growing inside the hoophouse on the college's Eden Hall Campus in Richland on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015.
Roy Weitzell, Aquatic Labratory Director in the Falk School of Sustainability, looks over greens growing inside the hoophouse on Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus in Richland on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
Roy Weitzell, Aquatic Labratory Director in the Falk School of Sustainability, looks over greens growing inside the hoophouse on Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus in Richland on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015.
A view from the Hilda M. Willis Amphitheater of the Large Barn (left) and Dairy Barn Cafe on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
A view from the Hilda M. Willis Amphitheater of the Large Barn (left) and Dairy Barn Cafe on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015.
Wastewater treatment features on Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus in Richland on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
Wastewater treatment features on Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus in Richland on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015.

Twenty-five graduate students — and one undergraduate — are the first residents of Chatham University's new Orchard Hall in Richland.

Most arrived in August, and some commute — in a Chatham van — to weekday classes at the university's main campus in Pittsburgh's Shadyside neighborhood.

“The idea is that we're eventually going to have at least 1,000 students here,” graduate student Catherine “Cat” Giles said about Chatham's increasingly busy and developing 388-acre Eden Hall Campus on Ridge Road.

Giles, 23, a graduate of Trinity High School in Washington County, is Orchard Hall's graduate resident director and a graduate student in Chatham's new Falk School of Sustainability.

The new Orchard Hall, a state-of-the-art structure in terms of “green” buildings, features rooftop solar panels and a network of fluid-filled pipes in the dorm's walls that heat and cool the building.

“Each student can manually change the temperature in their room,” said Bill Campbell, vice president of marketing and communications for Chatham University. Each room offers a single bed; desk; pair of stackable, two-drawer dressers; and a large window able to open like a horizontal or vertical door.

This semester, 116 students are enrolled in the Falk School of Sustainability. And 23 classes are running at the Eden Hall campus.

From a distance, Orchard Hall smacks of a big ski chalet with its exterior of ruddy pine.

A short walkway of rain-absorbing gravel connects Orchard Hall to a circular parking area and a mosaic of gardens that help filter campus wastewater.

The gardens grow outside a new field laboratory where students eventually will raise rainbow trout and perhaps other fish species, such as tilapia, perch or walleye, in three cylindrical, temperature-controlled tanks of recycled water purified on campus.

“We'd like to incorporate the fish into the food service here on campus,” said Roy Weitzell, aquatic laboratory director for the Falk School of Sustainability.

“That will entail processing the fish on site, euthanizing them in a humane way, cleaning them and then preparing them for food,” Weitzell said. “I'm in the process of communicating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make sure we have the proper permits. ... It's not like cleaning fish on you back porch.”

Weitzell said he hopes to begin raising trout next spring in the field lab.

Orchard Hall and the field lab are part of $40 million worth of construction projects already completed or under way as part of first-phase development of the Eden Hall Campus.

“All the buildings are being built to LEED platinum standards,” Campbell said, referring to the top-tier platinum-level certification for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design issued by the U.S. Green Buildings Council.

Chatham officials plan to eventually build more than 30 buildings on the former farm of the late Sebastian Mueller, a German immigrant and H.J. Heinz Co. executive who charitably made his estate a retreat for Pittsburgh working women.

In 2008, the Eden Hall Foundation donated Mueller's former Eden Hall estate to Chatham University for its new School of Sustainability.

The school offers undergraduate and graduate courses in food studies and sustainable agriculture, ecology, energy and water management.

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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