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$5 Million Gift to Help Fund Geo-Exchange Plant Inside New Dining and Community Commons

DCC rendering

The geo-exchange plant will be housed in the basement of the forthcoming Dining and Community Commons.

Following the announcement of the College’s ambitious energy plan, Rosamund Stone Zander ’64 has made a $5 million gift to help fund the geo-exchange plant that will be housed in the basement of the forthcoming Dining and Community Commons.

In addition to the gift, Zander will also support a fundraising challenge: If the College community raises $1.5 million for the geo-exchange plant by June 30, 2022, she will match the sum to fully fund the $8 million project.

“What we have done to our environment since the industrial revolution stands out as the most critical issue of our time,” says Zander, a family therapist and executive coach who also serves on the board of Climate Reality, a nonprofit group headed by former Vice President Al Gore. “I am thrilled to support this amazing project, having experienced that Swarthmore’s commitment to reducing carbon in the air, and sustainability overall, runs very deep indeed.”

The geo-exchange plant will serve as a centralized hub for a series of deep geothermal wells and help the College undergo a complete overhaul of the campus’s heating and cooling infrastructure, which relies on a steam system built in 1911 and powered by combustion of fossil fuels.

The planned geo-exchange system works on a yearly cycle by which heat-recovery chillers, powered by renewable electricity, remove the heat from campus buildings during summer cooling and store the heat in the earth through deep ground wells. The heat is then extracted from the earth in the winter to heat campus buildings.

“After I heard about the proposed Dining and Community Commons project, I was elated,” Zander says. “It has all the elements to support a society-wide awakening: The students will be gathering for pleasure in a building that signals environmental stewardship, and the building’s beautiful design will promote learning about the climate crisis to Swarthmore students, who are natural activists and have been since I was a student over 60 years ago.”

If you're interested in supporting the College’s commitment to carbon neutrality, contact Brian Myers, Interim Director of Individual Giving, at bmyers1@swarthmore.edu or 610-957-6495

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