Unity College names new high-efficiency residence hall for founder

Built to LEED Silver standards, Clifford Hall offers homage to a Unity College founder, philanthropist

UNITY, Maine – The newest residence hall at Unity College will be named Clifford Hall, honoring the late Bert Clifford, a Unity College founder and well-known local philanthropist.

Clifford Hall was built in the summer of 2014, designed and built to LEED Silver standards by a LEED-accredited professional architect.

This fall, it will be joined by another new high-efficiency residence hall – currently named Unity 2 — as Unity anticipates another record year for enrollment and high demand for student housing for 2015-16.

“I am pleased to announce that the residence hall built last summer will be named Clifford Hall, after one of our original founders,” Unity College President Dr. Stephen Mulkey said today. “Unity College is celebrating its 50-year anniversary this year, and I think Clifford Hall adds a special touch to this milestone; I am deeply grateful to all our founders who inspired such a relevant College.”

In addition to helping found Unity College, Bert Clifford was a nationally recognized telephone industry pioneer and Maine philanthropist who passed away in 2001. Bert is survived by daughter Coral Jeanne (CJ) Clifford-O’Connor, who is a current member of our Board of Trustees.

“As the student member of the committee, it was a joy to represent the student perspective,” Student Government Association John Karyczak said. “Clifford Hall is a great name, as it helps create a deeper connection for the students about the history of the college and how it fits into the long history of our town of Unity.”

Here are some of the highlights of the sustainable features of Clifford Hall.

Site

The building’s location was chosen to minimize disturbance to the surrounding landscape.  Nearby existing habitats, including vernal pools, were left untouched and unaffected.  Existing vegetation, including some trees, was protected during construction.  The project design included storm water management thoroughly reviewed and approved by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.  The building was situated with southern exposure to accommodate a roof-mounted solar array which the college is currently negotiating to install.

Building Construction

Sustainable construction methods were used whenever possible.  The contractors were required to use an approved construction waste management program with separate containers for different waste materials.  Regionally sourced products were used when available to minimize the amount of trucking required to bring the materials to the site.  Whenever possible, construction materials containing recycled content were used; additionally, an emphasis was placed on using materials that are rapidly renewable.

All lumber used on the project was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as having come from sustainably managed forests.  Other construction materials used were specified to be low emitting; including adhesives, sealants, paints, flooring systems, and composite wood.  The walls were insulated to R-30 and the roof was insulated to R-49.

Utilities

All plumbing fixtures were specified as “low water usage,” using on average 20 percent less water than standard fixtures. All interior and exterior lighting consists of LED fixtures, greatly reducing the amount of electricity used. Exterior lighting was positioned to eliminate light pollution.  Electricity consumed by the building, including during its construction, was purchased from green sources. The heating system consists of radiant in-slab heat fed by multiple wood pellet boilers to eliminate reliance on fossil fuels.  During the design phase of the project, multiple heating systems were modeled and the wood pellet system was shown to have the lowest initial cost and the lowest life cycle cost.

Other Sustainable Features

There are many other features of the building that add to its sustainability:

  • Bicycle racks were installed to encourage non-motorized traffic on campus.
  • The building contains adequate space for collection and storage of recyclable materials and waste to support our ongoing recycling initiatives.
  • Walk off mats in the main entrance help minimize the amount of dirt brought into the building, thereby reducing the need for cleaning chemicals.
  • Every resident room and common space has natural sunlight with large windows.
  • All wooden furniture is made of environmentally farmed timber.

The name was chosen by the students and current faculty and staff at Unity College in a contest held over a 10-day period. Submitted names that aligned with sustainability, the promotion of Unity’s history, and the current ideals of what sustainability means to the college, were promoted.

Once the deadline for submissions was closed, a committee met and narrowed the submissions down to four names that would move to a community-wide vote over a two-and-a-half-day period.

“The process was a huge success. More than two-thirds of the campus community participated in the voting,” said Dr. Melik Peter Khoury, Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer at Unity College. “Typically when buildings are built, they are named after an extremely generous donor, but in this instance, our enrollment had increased to the point that we had to ensure our students had a place to stay.”

Director of College Development and Alumni Affairs Julie Cunningham was chairwoman of the naming committee, which consisted of Associate Professor of Sustainable Enterprise Dr. Janis Balda, Director of Facilities and Public Safety Dan LaForge, Karyczak, and Dean of Student Affairs Gary Zane.

“The naming contest generated a lot of enthusiasm among the Unity community, and I think the name Clifford Hall provides some incredible symmetry in light of our 50-year anniversary,” Cunningham said.

Born in 1920, Clifford started his career in the telephone industry in 1962 when he and his wife, Coral, began acquiring stock in Unity Telephone Co. Bert Clifford became president and general manager of the company.

Under Clifford’s leadership, the Unity Telephone Co. became Maine’s first small independent telephone company to receive permission form the Rural Electrification Administration to perform its own outside construction and the first such company in all of New England to have a fully digital central office network.

Founded in 1902 and providing local service to just seven subscribers between Unity and Dixmont Corners, the Unity Telephone Co. – now known as UNITEL – became a leading independent telecommunications company that now serves more than 5,400 customers in all or sections of 11 towns in Waldo, Penobscot and Kennebec counties.

As chairman of UNITEL, Clifford directed its impressive growth into an array of telecommunications services and products that includes local dial service, access to long distance, voice mail, data circuits, Internet access, paging and cellular services.

In the mid-1960s, Clifford was joined by nine community leaders in Unity who all shared a similar vision and belief that young people from Maine with academic potential deserved a chance for higher education. Together, they incorporated Unity College, with Clifford serving as the founding chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees as well as chairman in the early 1990s.

In the 1990s, Clifford undertook the challenge of revitalizing the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad that runs between Unity, Burnham Junction and Belfast. More than 16,000 visitors ride the privately owned “Spirit of Unity” train each year. The Clifford’s also helped build the “Field of Dreams” sports complex in 1995, overlooking picturesque Unity Pond. The extensive complex offers free public access to regulation baseball fields, softball fields, soccer fields, basketball courts, tennis courts as well as a playground, outdoor exercise equipment and walking paths.


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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