When I returned to Rutgers this semester, I was startled by the huge increase in the number of solar panels that had been installed on Livingston campus. In recent years Rutgers has been making an effort to redevelop the Livingston campus, in an effort to transform it’s image from the ugly freshman campus to a modern, sustainable, walkable campus. Within the next 5 years, most of the renovations being made to Livingston are on track to be completed and there are some exciting ones in store! Already Rutgers has seen great success in the new Livingston dining facility among other projects and there has been a lot of hype about the ongoing construction of the new apartment complex.

The redevelopment thus far, has been championed by a 215 million dollar project consisting of the construction of three new apartments, which add up to 660,000 square feet. The apartments provide housing for about 1,500 students, in addition to some graduate and professional staff. The living areas consist of, a kitchen, one bathroom per two residents, single three quarter size bedrooms and a common room. When the apartments are finished, (which they are on track to be by the beginning of next school year) apartment A will be mixed use, with stores, a movie theater, coffee shop and eateries on the ground floor and student living quarters on upper floors.

The apartments may be the most talked about of Livingston’s renovations, but the most impressive to me are the alternative energy projects that are and are on track to be implemented. 2009 marked the construction of a 1.4 megawatt solar farm on Livingston campus, which was one of the largest solar farms in the state and provided for around 11% of campus needs. The solar farms that I saw when I arrived at the beginning of the school year were built as of this summer and provide 8 megawatts of solar power. Providing Livingston with more than 60% of the power it needs. Perhaps the addition that i find most interesting is the Geothermal project. The construction of a Closed Loop Geothermal System, projected to be completed by 2013, that will help to meet the heating and cooling needs of the growing campus.

Finally, Rutgers is working to redesign Livingston’s infrastructure into a more walkable (and bikeable) community. While simultaneously working to preserve it’s wildlife habitats, which include the Rutgers Ecological Preserve. In addition to adding bike lanes, there are several traffic calming methods that are being employed to encourage slower driving. These strategies include: planting trees by the road, on street parking and the addition of a round-a-bout. Walking signs, well lit streets and walking and biking trails in the woods are being added to encourage physical exercise as well.

Livingston campus’s construction earns it a certified LEED silver and within a few years will be a model for sustainable growth and environmental planning.  Between it’s modern, mixed use planning, focus on alternative energy, walkable design and preservation of it’s wilds, Livingston is a campus for Rutgers to be proud of.