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USM to break ground on its eco-friendly residence hall in Portland

The energy-efficient and partly solar-powered dorm and similar planned building projects will help USM meet its goal of being carbon neutral by 2040

PORTLAND, Maine — The University of Southern Maine (USM) is committed to the goal of being a carbon-neutral campus by the year 2040.

Next month, it will break ground on its first residence hall for the Portland Campus, and it will be built to passive house standards. That means it will energy-efficient, partly solar-powered, and will produce only half the carbon of a regular dorm. It will feature sustainable landscaping, recycling, and waste minimization.

USM President Glenn Cummings, who rides his bicycle to work every day to do his part of the environment, believes universities are uniquely positioned to cause a ripple effect of change.

Cummings said, "It's true we only make a small sliver of the landmass, but we make up 100 percent Of America's future leadership. And that is the difference that a university can make. The question is will our graduates go out there and understand what sustainability means? Will we sustain ourselves decade after decade and survive?"

The new dorm, Portland Commons, will have 580 beds, ranging from single-occupancy rooms to larger apartments.

USM says the new dorm will be home to undergraduate students in their second, third, or fourth year, as well as graduate and law school students.