Revitalizing the campus core
Marlboro students returned this fall to a physically transformed college, including restored pathways in the heart of campus and a newly paved visitor’s parking lot and road around the dining hall and Mather. The landscaping effort, one result of a $500 thousand budget allocation voted by the trustees last year, is just the most obvious in a suite of recent improvements that are all part of the master plan to make campus more accessible, maintainable and energy efficient.
“A big part of the landscaping was to make everything more handicap accessible,” said Dan Cotter, director of plant operations. There are more handicapped parking spaces and access to the admissions building, dining hall and Mather was enhanced. “It also improves the appearance and maintenance of the most central part of campus, such as getting rid of all the old broken up pavement in front of Mather.”
The pavement was replaced with a network of durable paving stones, bound by lawns, garden beds and stone walls. Granite steps lead visitors up to the admissions building and the peaceful, vehicle-free campus center. President Ellen McCulloch-Lovell said, “This new look now extends the eye out to the hills beyond, and expresses our sense of community with the pathways and beautiful new stone walls.”
Beneath the surface, the changes included removing a leaky old cistern behind Mather and upgrading the tunnel between Mather and the dining hall so the space between them could be attractively landscaped. The dining hall gained a new enclosed loading dock, a roof over steps on the east side and an accessible ramp into the Staples conference room.
These landscaping and building improvements complement recent efforts to boost energy efficiency on campus, thanks to a $163,000 grant from the Department of Energy in collaboration with other colleges in the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges. The 50 percent grant was matched by alumni parents Charlie and Sue Snyder, who also matched an $83,000 grant from the Clean Energy Development Fund* for all new windows in Dalrymple and supported the installation of solar hot water panels on Howland dormitory.
Insulation improvements were approved by the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation and installed in Dalrymple, Mather, Howland and the dining hall, with the admissions building due for completion this fall. These included using loose fill or dense packed cellulose to replace or augment existing insulation, and creating vapor barriers and moisture mitigation in the cellars through the application of soy-based, spray foam insulation.
“You have to stop the moisture coming in, because if you don’t, you’ll rot the building right out,” said Dan. He reports that these insulation improvements stand to make a substantial difference in Marlboro’s use of heating oil, and our environmental impact, but that there have not been enough data collected yet to report direct savings. Although Dalrymple was the first building to be completed, in November 2009, it was well into the heating season so a direct comparison was difficult. Still, preliminary indications from that building showed a reduction of approximately 1200 gallons of heating oil, or a 38 percent reduction from the previous three-year average.
“Unfortunately, because we replaced the windows on Dalrymple in the middle of the winter last year, I still don’t have a full heating cycle,” said Dan. “During that whole project, there were giant holes in the side of the building.” Further data on energy efficiency in campus buildings will be forthcoming, but at least anecdotally the new windows in Dalrymple have made a significant impact on heating demand. Dan reports that he has been able to lower the temperature of the boiler, and that papers no longer blow off of desks when windows are closed.
A final improvement to the dining hall and Mather, the replacement of one large (750 BTU) boiler with two smaller (275 BTU) boilers, stands to make a big impact on fuel use. According to Dan, there’s a striking increase in efficiency when you can “stage” boilers, using one boiler for low-heating times and adding another for the colder months.
“In September, when it’s 50 at night, one smaller boiler will heat both of these buildings, instead of the gigantic thing that was down there,” he said, “As you need it, you cycle the other one in.”
Even these changes are just the most central part of the plan that will have the entirety of Marlboro campus working more smoothly, and with more moderate environmental impacts. Next time you visit Potash Hill and admire the paths and pleasing stone walls, remember that they are only the tip of the iceberg.
*see required disclosure
Christie property joins campus
Marlboro is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Christie property, on South Road down the hill from the Person’s lot, as authorized by the board of trustees last October. Owned by the family of the late Rev. Ralph Aldrich Christie, who was summer pastor at the Marlboro Meeting House from the late 1920s to 1970, the property includes a small cottage and several outbuildings, stone walls and gardens. Along with all of the renovations gripping the center of campus this summer, the Christie cottage was also completely refurbished, inside and out, and currently houses Marlboro’s new director of housing and residential life, Jodi Clark ’95.
Howland gets royal flush
Alumni parent Jim Lande told us that his son, Josh Lande ’08, wished that the college would use donor funds for really practical purposes, like upgrading the plumbing in the dorms. A man of action, Jim offered to contribute to such practical renovations in Howland, provided the college would commemorate this with a plaque honoring his son. When informed of his father’s contribution, Josh, though pleased at the renovations, wanted to go on the record as having no involvement in the way his family’s gift was recognized.