All posts by Scott Carlson


Colby College Eliminates Greenhouse-Gas Emissions, Declaring Itself Climate Neutral

Screen shot 2013-04-04 at 2.01.37 PMColby College has achieved what only a handful of other higher-education institutions have done so far: The college has met its goal in the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and declared itself climate neutral. That means—essentially, with some caveats—that the college has zero greenhouse-gas emissions.

After signing the climate commitment, Colby set a goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2015—a date far sooner than most other institutions that had signed. Only thr…


Unity College Will Focus Curriculum on Climate Change

Unity College announced on Tuesday that it would make climate change and countering climate change the central focus of its curriculum.

“Unity College’s focus is timely given the priority that President Barack Obama placed on the mitigation of global climate change during his second inaugural address,” the Maine college said in a news release. “Severe weather events from the devastating flooding in New York to record high temperatures across the globe have spiked public interest in the subject.”…


What’s the Payoff for the ‘Country Club’ College?

The College of New Rochelle, which opened a $28-million wellness center (above) in 2008, could be one example of what researchers describe as institutions caught up in an amenities arms race. Credit: ikon.5 architects

For the past 15 years or so, colleges have experienced a tremendous building boom, and the most publicized aspects of the boom have been the amenities: the climbing walls, the swank student unions, and the luxury dorms.

Even in the midst of a national financial crisis, the building…


Judge Rules in Favor of Johns Hopkins in Dispute Over Farmland’s Use

(Updated on 10/29/2012 to note the family’s intent to appeal.)

A state judge in Montgomery County, Md., has ruled against a family who sued the Johns Hopkins University, seeking to block it from developing land that the family had sold to Hopkins in an effort to preserve it from rampant development.

Elizabeth Banks sold her Belward Farm to Johns Hopkins in 1988 at a tenth of the land’s value, with the understanding that the land would be used to build a campus. But the family of Ms. Banks, who d…


A Decision to Slaughter Oxen at a College Farm Angers Animal-Rights Activists

Students guide the oxen Bill and Lou, pulling a mower in healthier days (Green Mountain College image).

A couple of years ago, I visited Green Mountain College and toured the Vermont college’s post-petroleum farm, which instructs students in ways to conduct agriculture without fossil-fuel inputs. That means that animals do a lot of work on the farm, and the most essential of those animals were a pair of oxen, Lou and Bill. They were magnificent creatures—an embodiment of power, with long horns…


Last Chance for a New Campus in Houston?

Tory Gattis, over at the other Chronicle (in Houston), has an idea for a prime piece of real estate in that Texas city. The 136-acre parcel—which is being sold by the engineering and construction company KBR—is near downtown, sits along the Buffalo Bayou, and has plenty of opportunities for green space. (See the red circle on the map below.)

“This parcel of land could be the last opportunity for Houston to add a major college campus to the city,” Mr. Gattis writes, noting that Houston has fewer …


College-Backed Solar Projects Are Switched On in Md., Off in N.J.

Two items of solar news affecting mid-Atlantic colleges have emerged lately—one good, one not so good.

In the good-news category, Maryland’s governor, Martin O’Malley, wielded a big pair of scissors for a ribbon-cutting last week at Mount St. Mary’s University, where he celebrated the installation of a 16.1-megawatt solar field. The field, as you can see, is vast, comprising 220,000 panels on 100 acres of land owned by Mount St. Mary’s.

Constellation Energy owns and operates the field, and has l…


What Makes a College Town, and Which Are the Best?

As you know, we here at The Chronicle’s Buildings & Grounds blog are not big believers in “best” or “top 10″ lists. But when this list of the “top 10 college towns of 2012″ arrived in my in box this morning, I couldn’t resist passing it along.

In doing so, I’m not saying the list is definitive—it’s put together by a publication called Livability, which I have never heard of. But I thought it would spur conversation about everyone’s favorite college towns.

And for starters, we need a basic defini…


Los Angeles Community Colleges Will Restart $6-Billion Construction Program

The Los Angeles Community College District will restart its $6-billion construction effort, after a long moratorium following questions about the district’s construction contracts and spending, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The construction program had been derailed by an 18-month investigation by the Times, which showed that the district had wasted millions of dollars on poorly planned projects, in blunders that included significant errors in construction, the hiring of trustees’ relatives, an…


Southern Cal’s $1-Billion Neighborhood Project on Hold, Amid Local Protests

For nearly a decade now, the University of Southern California has had a major construction plan in the works—a plan that would pump about $1-billion into a rundown area near the campus, transforming it into restaurants, shops, office space, and student housing. But residents of the area have protested the plan, arguing that it would displace the low-income families that have lived in the neighborhood for a long time. (Click here to listen to a debate about the gentrification issue on Los Angele…