New Unity College residence hall to offer ‘living energy lab’

America’s environmental college continues growth with Unity 2 offering advanced features

UNITY, Maine – Unity College will unveil a new residence hall that allows it to keep pace with peak enrollment while providing students a “living laboratory” in sustainable energy management.

Constructed to meet LEED Silver standards, the approximately 18,000-square-foot, residence hall was designed by SMRT Inc. of Portland.

The residence hall – to be completed in August — currently is named Unity 2 and is being built on the sylvan campus next to Unity 1, the college’s most recent residence hall, completed with next-generation energy efficiency features in 2015.

“As we increase our national presence, we are continuing to meet annual enrollment goals and are getting more students matriculating from out of state,” said Unity College President Dr. Stephen Mulkey. “In our 50th year, we are projecting maximum enrollment for the second year in a row.”

Similar to Unity 1, Unity 2 will be fitted with advanced, yet different heating and cooling options. Unity 1 is heated by a wood pellet-fired boiler while Unity 2 will take advantage of the latest energy-efficient air source heat pumps, which provide both heating and cooling.

The Unity community is currently taking part in a naming contest for Unity 1.

“Looking at our growth from a comprehensive point of view, the new residence hall will be a ‘living lab’ of energy management, in addition to fulfilling our need for residential space for our undergraduates and also for our expanding summer programs,” said Executive Vice President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury.

“Both buildings are part of our strategic plan for building a beacon and creating a national presence for Unity as America’s environmental college,” Khoury said, noting that students will be involved in energy management programs that compare and contrast energy use and efficiency throughout the two buildings.

Unity College Director of Facilities and Public Safety Dan LaForge said the new 72-bed residence hall will include 23 air-source heat pumps. “This cooling option will provide us with an air-conditioned building for summer programs,” he said.

The new residence hall also provides more square footage per student than any other residence hall on campus, LaForge said. Other notable aspects of Unity 2 include:

  • Roof positioning to support a solar array
  • Furniture from a sustainable manufacturer that will match Unity 1
  • Five-student suites, each with a kitchenette
  • A main common room with kitchenette across the hall
  • All LED lighting
  • R-30 rated wall insulation and R-70 roof insulation.

“Over the past few years, we have made a dedicated effort to provide quality upper-class housing options, and Unity 1 and 2 provide living arrangements and amenities that our upper-class students desire,” Dean for Student Affairs Gary Zane said. “The result—we have a record number of juniors and seniors now living on-campus, and have a record residential population overall.”

“As with all of our campus improvement projects, we listened to the needs and preferences of students,” Mulkey said. “This comfortable residence hall has the amenities that our students have told us they want, and it provides features like wireless technology throughout that support study and experiential learning.”

Stephen Nason, Director of Residence Life and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, said Unity 2 “continues Unity College’s commitment to having top quality housing designed for upper-class students.”

“At Unity College each year, more and more junior and senior students are choosing to stay on campus because of the community and convenience,” Nason said. “Unity 2 greatly helps meet this growing on-campus demand from juniors and seniors.”

About Unity College
Unity College proudly celebrates its 50th year in 2015. The first institution of higher education in the nation to divest from fossil fuel investments, Unity is committed to educating the next generation of environmental professionals. Sustainability science lies at the heart of its educational mission, with 16 environmentally focused undergraduate majors. For more information, visit unity.edu.

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