US: SUNY Potsdam opens new greenhouse facility

SUNY Potsdam officially opened the College's new state-of-the-art greenhouse facility with a ribboncutting ceremony on Friday, May 13.

The College marked the completion of the new Wagner Institute for Sustainability and Ecological Research Greenhouse with a ceremony and reception in the new space, which is connected to Stowell Hall. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the Potsdam College Foundation Board of Trustees were on hand to witness the occasion.



The lead donors, Robert Wagner '75 and his wife Wendy, cut the ribbon with giant golden gardening shears, alongside College officials.

"I was thinking about what makes this place unique, and the one word that kept coming into my head was 'unity.' The students, faculty and staff are a community, a family. That's one of the things I think this facility, the WISER Greenhouse, can facilitate and move forward," Mr. Wagner said.

The fully donor-funded WISER Greenhouse at SUNY Potsdam will provide the campus with a research-grade facility with four growing zones. The building incorporates environmentally-friendly design principles, including the ability to capture rainwater for irrigation and strategies to operate using solar energy.

A lounge will connect the greenhouse to Stowell Hall, and will feature an energy dashboard with real-time energy use and environmental indicators for the greenhouse. The building includes a vertical garden, with a living wall of plants, and the College plans to create botanical gardens lining the path to the entrance of the greenhouse from Barrington Drive.

"Through research, education and practice, the WISER Greenhouse will be the cornerstone of campus sustainability and ecological efforts at Potsdam," President Kristin G. Esterberg said. "As we reflect on our past 200 years, we are reminded that our history is filled with generous people who have made SUNY Potsdam greater because they followed their passion and shared it with our students. I can't think of a better example than Bob and Wendy Wagner."

Additional gifts in support of the greenhouse construction were received from Frederic Pratt '75 and Jana Pratt '76. In addition, the Alcoa Foundation has awarded grant funding to support Wagner Institute programs that will take place in the new facility.

"This space, the WISER Center, will be a hub of sustainability and ecological research that benefits our campus, serves our community and connects us to the world," said Ray Bowdish, a member of the biology faculty who will lead a number of research projects in the facility.

Along with the new greenhouse space, WISER will allow students to engage in experiential learning in classes and programs, investigating issues of climate change, sustainable agriculture and biodiversity. Through the new institute, biology faculty and students have spearheaded a campuswide Healthy Plant Initiative, and are also working on educational outreach regarding sustainability practice in the North Country, urban farming research and much more.

Construction of the greenhouse began last fall. Continental Construction of Gouverneur, N.Y., was the general contractor for the project.

Along with the new greenhouse space, WISER will allow students to engage in experiential learning in classes and programs, investigating issues of climate change, sustainable agriculture and biodiversity.

For more information:
www.potsdam.edu/academics/AAS/biology/wiser

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