Thinking Green

Read More

To the side of an amphitheater under construction on the new $44 million satellite campus of Chatham University, an air vent pokes through the ground. Easily overlooked unless a guide points it out, the vent protrudes from a root cellar, a concept that has existed since the Iron Age as a way of using the natural coolness of an underground chamber to preserve fruits, vegetables and other edibles. It may seem like a symbol of the past. On Chatham’s Eden Hall site in the North Hills, it speaks to the future. “A root cellar is what’s called appropriate technology. It’s inexpensive. It’s easy to do. It gets the job done naturally,” says David Hassenzahl, founding dean and professor of Chatham’s School of Sustainability and the Environment. “We’ve gotten accustomed to high-tech solutions. We’ve forgotten how to do some simple, practical, economical things. We don’t want sustainability to be what they study, but what they live.” A simple hole in the ground to preserve food without energy-dependent refrigeration? It’s an old-school idea with a 21st-century twist, and it’s as likely to persuade today’s students to choose one university over another as digital classrooms, country-club dorms and party-school reputations. Chatham’s root cellar is a symbol of how higher education has become deeper, greener and broader in western Pennsylvania, where colleges and universities have positioned themselves among the acknowledged leaders of a national and international movement.

To read the full story, click Read More.


Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation
University of Pittsburgh
Swanson School of Engineering
153 Benedum Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15261


icon link for facebook icon link for twitter icon link for flickr icon link for instagram icon link for youtube