Monroe rededication ceremony showcases environmentally conscious ‘extreme makeover’

More than a half-century after its original construction in 1961, Monroe Hall, which has not previously featured any major changes to its infrastructure or furnishings, is now the most environmentally friendly residence hall on campus. Geneseo faculty, staff, students and special guests gathered on Thursday, Feb. 7, to celebrate the official rededication of Monroe.

“It’s safe to say this building is not a renovation,” said President Christopher Dahl. “But it’s what you would call, in those TV show terms, an ‘extreme makeover.’ There is no way to know that this was a classic dormitory – a sort of state general services administration building of the ‘60s.”

“This makeover – this repurposing and refocusing – is to serve our mission as the public honors college of SUNY,” Dahl said. “Residence halls are not just places to do your laundry, not just places to sleep, not just places to live; they are living and learning communities at the heart of what it means to be a nationally ranked public liberal arts college.”

The new Monroe features a heating and cooling system by use of underground geothermal wells and is the second building on campus to utilize this technology, the first being Seneca Hall. Further, Monroe is home to a rainwater harvesting system, which gathers and utilizes rainwater to flush toilets throughout the building.

The rainwater system is housed in the basement and can be seen by students through glass windows. Additionally, a TV display has been installed in Monroe’s lobby, which charts the energy usage of Monroe in comparison to other buildings on campus.

According to Dahl, the campus has applied for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification for the building. Monroe would be the first building on campus to achieve the distinction should it be awarded.

Monroe County Legislature President Jeffrey Adair, Vice President for Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio and resident assistant senior Michael Cooke were among those who spoke at the event.

Adair commended the college’s tradition of setting high standards, while Bonfiglio spoke of Monroe Hall as another step in Geneseo’s goal to advance the quality of education and community for its students.

“This new residence hall is all about form following function,” Bonfiglio said. “The function of this residence hall is to provide a setting for the kind of relational learning that is part of the liberal arts experience that Geneseo exemplifies. We create an environment where students can grow, explore, discover and learn to love learning.”

“This is what Monroe Hall is all about,” Bonfiglio said. “It’s another way to provide an opportunity for students to think about their role in the community, their role as sustainers of our environment, and to think about their future.”

Bonfiglio proceeded to thank Dahl for leading Geneseo in a way that upholds the tradition of the liberal arts. Additionally, he emphasized the importance of Geneseo students, without whom he said Geneseo would not strive to attain such high standards.

“I want to thank our students for giving us the inspiration to design this building,” Bonfiglio said. “Our students are capable of enrolling at any college or university in the country, any institution in the world, but they choose Geneseo. We owe them our very best day in and day out, and this is our way of saying thank you and enjoy.”