Feb. 08, 2013

Geneseo Celebrates Re-opening of Monroe Residence Hall, a Model for Sustainability


GENESEO, N.Y. - One of the oldest residence halls on the SUNY Geneseo campus is now the newest and most environmentally friendly following a two-year renovation, and the college conducted a re-dedication ceremony Feb. 7 to celebrate.

"Residence halls for us are not just places to sleep and do laundry, they are really living and learning communities at the heart of what it means to be a nationally ranked public liberal arts college," said Geneseo President Christopher C. Dahl. "This incredible, new repurposed building is an ‘extreme makeover' with eco-friendly features. Such projects help us focus on serving our mission to combine a rigorous curriculum with a rich co-curricular life to create a learning-centered environment for out students."

Monroe Hall re-opened this semester to 170 students and staff after undergoing its first renovation since opening in 1961 and is now one of the most energy-efficient residence halls on campus. Even construction waste that accumulated during demolition was recycled, according to David Norton, project manager in SUNY Geneseo's Office of Facilities Services and Planning.

To reduce energy use, heating and cooling for the building is controlled by geothermal wells underground, and a rainwater harvesting system on the roof conserves water by channeling it for use in toilets. It's the second building on campus to utilize geothermal wells.

The entire project focused on sustainability to reduce environmental impact, and the college has applied for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Development (LEED) gold-level certification for the building. It also supports the national agreement that President Dahl signed in 2007 calling for a reduction in the college's overall impact on the environment and the integration of sustainability issues into education and campus culture.

In the lobby of Monroe, students can see how much energy is saved in comparison to other buildings on campus via a screen display. In addition to new rooms and suites, each floor has a laundry room and kitchenette, and a computer program even alerts students when a washer is free.

"I volunteered here to help students move into the renovated Monroe, and the excitement I saw in the student's eyes was more than familiar because I lived here when I first came to Geneseo," said Michael Cooke, a senior at Geneseo and a resident assistant in Monroe. "I was proud to call Monroe home and I hope the current students will be, too."

Robert Bonfiglio, vice president for student and campus life, told the gathering that the building is all about the educational experience.

"This new residence hall is all about form following function and the function of this residence hall is to provide a setting for the kind of relational learning that is part of the liberal arts experience that Geneseo exemplifies," said Bonfiglio. "We create an environment where students can grow, explore, discover and learn and this is what Monroe Hall is all about."

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