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Industry Updates: News & Awards

By Selena Fragassi


Old Is New Again at Unity College with Modern Farmhouse Project
In the year 2000, Unity College did the unthinkable: turning a two-story 19th century farmhouse and barn on the Maine campus into the college’s Center for the Performing Arts. When it opened 15 years ago, guests were able to have access to a 200-seat theater as well as banquet hall and art gallery. Administrative offices are also housed inside. However the college was not done. Realizing how expensive energy costs would be to operate the building, personnel started investigating ways to reduce costs and be more environmentally friendly.

The “green energy project” reached its completion in January, which included in no short order replacing light sources with LED lamps, installing heavier insulation and air sealing in the attic and spray foaming the basement, and upgrading to modern, programmed air sources for air conditioning and heating uses. The cost for the project was estimated at more than $100,000, part of which was supplied through grants; however, the college estimates it will save nearly $15,000 annually and also cut down significantly on electricity and heating oil. “We’re proud to be able to demonstrate how to modernize an older building for 21st-century uses. It’s an example of solving legacy efficiency issues using partnerships, creative thinking, and state-of-the-art technology,” Unity College President Melik Peter Khoury told the Portland Press Herald.

Illinois’ North Central College in the Midst of a Building Boom
Last fall, the college in Naperville, Illinois opened the doors to a new residence hall that offers single, double, and quadruple occupancy suites for up to 229 total people. Each suite is fully furnished and comes complete with a living room area, kitchenette, and private bathroom (or bathrooms). Great for conference guests, the building is a one-stop for business purposes, too, and is geared towards corporate training and conferences. In addition to guest rooms, it also boasts a large breakout meeting space, computer lab, lounges on each floor, and Wi-Fi access throughout the building.

Earlier in 2015, the college also broke ground on a new 125,000-square-foot Science Center “that ranks among the most transformative facility upgrades in the College's 154-year history,” according to the Chicago Tribune. It’s expected to wrap by the summer 2017 and will offer high-tech facilities for students looking to advance in STEM fields. Inside will be 15 classrooms/seminar rooms, a lecture hall, and multiple gathering spaces that could also become beneficial to groups in the non-academic season.

MacEwan Identifies with All Gender Washrooms
The students asked and MacEwan listened. At the request of the Students’ Association of MacEwan University, the Edmonton, Alberta campus has started introducing all gender washrooms. Signage bearing the words “all gender” (rather than unisex, which is also limiting) will start to appear on the doors of a number of single-occupant washrooms indicating that they are accessible by anyone of any gender, including gender variant individuals, as well as people with disabilities who have a personal care attendant and those with chronic illnesses.

“Transgender and gender variant individuals often experience open or covert emotional abuse and physical harassment when using gender-segregated washrooms. All-gender washrooms are important in contributing to their sense of safety, well-being, and security when exercising their basic right to use a washroom,” said a statement on the official university website. Cathryn Heslep, vice-president of student services for the university, also added, “University is a time of growth, learning, discovery, and finding one's way in the world. We are happy to be part of that process, and we are committed to supporting various diversity initiatives for students, faculty, and staff, including all gender washrooms.”