Donations to help construction of ‘green’ FES building

The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies’ $27 million capital campaign to build a new facility on Prospect Street received a $4 million boost over winter break.

The latest contribution to the campaign for the school’s expansion came from Carl Knobloch ’51, president and CEO of Atlanta-based West Hill Investors, a privately held equity firm. Environment School Dean Gus Speth contacted Knobloch last year to inform him of plans for new construction which will be named after Yale alumnus Richard Kroon ’64.

“I have a particular interest in the [environment] and so it fell within my charitable interest, and I greatly admire Dean Speth,” Knobloch said. “He is the leader in what needs to be done with the natural ecosystem in the world and in America.”

Knobloch’s gift will finance the creation of the Carl and Emily Knobloch Environment Center at Yale within the building. The new center will house a student and faculty lounges and a lecture hall to host conferences and visiting speakers.

Yale is planning to build the facility on the site of the decommissioned Pierson-Sage Power Plant on Prospect Street between Osborn Memorial Laboratories and Sloane Physics Laboratory. David Spalding, a senior mechanical engineer and project manager with Yale’s facilities department, said a contract with an architect will be completed by the end of the month, and the building should be occupied by mid-2008.

Knobloch said his interest in the environment stems primarily from his work lobbying Congress to grant states $25 billion in tax credits in order to preserve critical wetlands and open space.

The “green” building will be the first of its kind at the University. It comes as a result of Yale’s attempt to become a more environmentally conscious campus, Rebecca Reider FES ’05 said.

“We want to have a positive impact on the local wildlife ecology,” Spalding said. “We wanted to provide a model of sustainable design in a construction context.”

According to construction plans, the building will be able to provide as much energy as it is using, employing alternative power sources such as solar and wind power. Even the lumber will be harvested in a sustainable fashion.

Stephen Kellert, chair of the environment school’s new facilities committee, said the construction goals are to make a building that can adapt to climate changes, use minimal amounts of energy and derive energy from non-polluting sources.

“In a very fundamental way, we’re a school that’s very interested in sustainability,” Kellert said. “The school itself [will] become a form of pedagogy, to instruct people by its performance.”

Reider said the current facilities are inadequate and, in addition to updating the school in an environmentally conscious way, the new building is a necessary and welcome addition, as it will foster a greater sense of community.

“Classes are all spread out throughout Prospect Street, and it will be nice to have most of the school under one building, in an environmentally safe way, too,” Reider said.

Sarah Selig ’06, an Environmental Studies major, said she is excited about the new building’s environmentally sustainable features and the University’s increased concern for the environment.

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