Chapter 1: General Principles

A. Overview

Since its inception in the late 19th century, the grounds and buildings of the University of New Hampshire have developed into a quintessential New England college campus setting. Because the campus plays an essential role in successfully attracting quality students and faculty, the collegiate character and spirit of the campus must be preserved and enhanced through our commitment to sustainable design and construction. Primary building projects – from small retrofits to major renovation and construction – are expected to produce facilities that will serve the University for a century or more. As new facilities are created and existing ones renovated, we are inclined to avoid risks, always striving to have long term stewardship of the campus be our guide. The overall goals to achieve this vision are:

  • Buildings must be made of enduring materials, systems and components that require minimal maintenance. Components should be readily available and use common methods for replacement.
  • Designs must be responsive to the needs and functional requirements of the University as a whole, as well as specific users.
  • Designs must strive for construction that provides the greatest long-term value for the money spent, not necessarily the least expensive solution. Selection of materials, quality of workmanship, and attention to detail will reflect that.
  • Designs must provide a safe, healthful, accessible environment, complying with or exceeding all applicable codes and regulations.
  • Designs must strive to use energy-efficient systems and components, building upon the successes the University has achieved in energy efficiency.
  • Designs must make efficient and appropriate use of the limited campus land available for development.
  • Designs will carefully consider the impact to the environment, not only within the campus, but where materials are acquired from and disposed to, and the energy used in the process.
  • Designs must be adaptable over time to changes in the function and operation of the building.  Our buildings will serve many generations, not just current personalities.
  • All of this must be accomplished while pursuing designs that are distinguished and timeless. The physical image of the University is critical to the recruitment of students and faculty members; therefore, designs must be responsive to the sense of history and place.
  • All elements of the campus should help form a memorable environment with lively places for chance encounters and spaces that have feelings of collegiality. These aspirations apply to the interior and exterior of buildings, and to the campus grounds.

B. Sustainability - LEED Equivalency

Sustainable design is the only option for entities like colleges and universities, where there is a campus with its own set of traditions that build and renovate facilities that won’t be sold off, that will need to be operated and maintained efficiently for a very long time, within a larger setting that needs to be safe, healthful, and attractive. Enduring, Efficient, Effective, Adaptable, Engaging and Meaningful are the principles that must guide every project.  For the University of New Hampshire this is overlaid by our culture of New England frugality, using every resource to its greatest extent, looking for the best long term value, and being cautious with building experiments that may not hold up over the long life of a building.

The University of New Hampshire is a member of the US Green Building Council because it recognizes that the USGBC’s LEED rating system is currently the most widely accepted standard for evaluating sustainability of the built environment. While we do not require projects to seek LEED certification, every University project is expected to reflect these guidelines. It is expected that the effort to accomplish this will start early in project planning and continue through the completion of construction documents. During construction it is expected that the general contractor/construction manager/design builder will provide some form of verification to the University to show compliance with the intent of the construction documents for things like construction waste recycling, regional origination of materials, certification of wood, etc. Building commissioning, comparable to LEED Fundamental Commissioning, is required of ALL projects, regardless of their size.

There are several reasons the University has chosen a LEED equivalent process rather than a formal LEED certification process for all major projects. LEED is a useful tool for us, however, by its very nature it wants to be applied across a very wide spectrum of building types (commercial, developer, public, and institutional). By doing this, it doesn’t always align with the University’s sustainable design values. For example our highest priority is durability, and LEED currently doesn’t have any means to evaluate this for us. So, while achieving a LEED certified gold or platinum project is noteworthy, it doesn’t indicate how well we have achieved our fundamental sustainable design goal of durability. Also, the LEED scoring system assigns points to some project attributes that don’t make a substantive difference as viewed through our sustainability values and Northern New England climate considerations, and some have a cost that is hard for us to otherwise justify. Compliance with these guidelines does not preclude the University from deciding to seek formal LEED certification on selected projects. 

With all of this in mind it is useful to describe how we have arrived at our broad holistic approach to sustainable design and construction that is described by the design goals in the Overview section of this Chapter. It is extremely important that design team members embrace this approach as they work from broad planning concepts through detailed construction documents.

Foremost when thinking about capital construction projects and sustainability at the University of New Hampshire is to understand the State of New Hampshire. Yankee frugality is in our roots, always striving to get the greatest value from the limited resources available. It is the only state without a sales tax or income tax. For a long time New Hampshire has been ranked 50th (that’s last) in the country in terms of public financial support for higher education, and the State would have to increase its appropriation by over 30% to get to 49th place.  This means we rely on tuition, especially from out-of-state students.  And to attract out-of-state students we need to have a campus that looks and feels like a traditional New England college.  This revenue model also means that our maintenance and repair funding is extremely limited all the time, not just during recessions. While in recent years State support for capital projects has been good, there have been many years when little or no funding has been available. There is an extensive list of deferred maintenance for many of our most important buildings. This all means that when we do get capital funding we need to be very careful to produce buildings that will be Enduring, Efficient, Effective, Adaptable, and Meaningful.  Every decision must be made with an eye toward the best long term value for the University because it will likely be a long time before we get a chance to renovate the building we are now producing.

We also recognize that the earliest buildings (up until WWII) on our campus were extremely sustainable.  They used local bricks, granite, wood and slate.  They had large windows to take advantage of natural light.  They were well built to endure, and yet had a great deal of flexibility to be adapted over time.  They were all tied to a central heating plant that for its time was the most energy efficient system.  They were laid out to form outdoor rooms and encourage a walking campus environment with a train station right on campus.  They were designed in a common style so they fit together as a campus, not a disparate set of buildings vying for individual attention.  Not being showy or pretentious is definitely a New Hampshire trait.

In the 50s and 60s as the campus grew rapidly these precepts were discarded by the belief that modern times deserved modern buildings that didn’t have to be constrained by these outdated design rules.   This resulted in major buildings with electric heat, expansive inoperable windows, buildings without any relationship to each other or the older buildings on campus. This was clearly a shift from the usual New Hampshire respect for traditions and history.

In the 1970s the energy crisis hit and there was a rush to do experimental environmental design.  The result had some successes, but many failed experiments.  Then in the 1980s came the developer mentality that corners could be cut while still delivering buildings to meet contemporary needs.  These quickly turned into maintenance and operational problems within 10 years or less.  These failed lessons are very costly over the life of a building that is expected to last 100 years or more.

This has led to a cautious approach to new/untested technologies, ideas, materials, or systems. Our New England frugality reappears! The University began looking back to its roots as the guide to sustainability for the future.  Practical energy efficiency solutions were put in place, rather than exotic ones.   Buildings would be built that are enduring, and made of local brick, granite, precast concrete, and slate. They would include operable windows, and spaces that are modular and adaptable.  They would be efficient to maintain and to operate.  By the late 1990s as the term sustainable design came into use, it was evident that we were on the right path, but that it needed continual fine tuning. What has developed is an approach to sustainable design and construction that resulted from our history and traditions. Our approach includes many aspects of what LEED is all about and so it is not necessary to explain those.  The aspects that go beyond LEED are described in more detail as follows.

  • Enduring: This drives everything else – in the planning, design and construction process it is interchangeable with the term sustainable.
  • Efficient: This includes efficiencies of energy, maintenance, waste, water, materials, and cost. The University has been very successful at being energy efficient over the past 20 years, by very effectively utilizing its campus wide Building Automation System, and by applying rigorous standards to each major project.  Our building systems, components, and finishes must be maintenance efficient because of our limited maintenance resources.
  • Effective: This speaks to providing for User Needs, Health, Safety, Accessibility, and Comfort.  Each of these has components of sound control/management, fresh air/smells/fumes/humidity, natural and artificial light, visibility/concealment, ergonomics, and of course temperature.  These basics of design are fundamental to truly sustainable design that won’t require renovation or retrofitting for many years to come.
  • Adaptable: Because we expect our buildings to serve many generations, designs should avoid customization for current user personalities as much as possible.  Use modularity, and standardized components to the greatest extent possible.  Provide for future capacity and capability within distribution systems and room layouts.  Again, we want to avoid renovations or retrofitting for as long as possible.
  • Meaningful:  Every building and every interior and exterior public space needs to be understandable and engaging within the context of our campus. (see the following Section C)


Link to Map of Sustainability at UNH:

C. Campus Buildings - Campus Master Plan

Every building needs to feel like it belongs in New Hampshire and to the University and is not something that could be confused with a commercial office building or a community center, or be on just any college campus.  Having grown up in the early 20th century when college campuses took on specific architectural styles as their identity, our campus buildings are primarily masonry with punched openings, and pitched roofs.  That’s what people think of when they picture the University and it is essential that we respect and build upon this core identity. 

The approach must be to make places that engage people with forms and spaces that make them want to be here – not in a passing fashion, but in sound timeless and distinguished designs.  Much too often modern architecture doesn’t engage people, and is generally considered cold, sterile, and inhumane.  We have our own examples from the 50s and 60s that people just wish would go away.  Because they were built to last, they will live on for many more decades as second-class-citizens of our campus.  So it is important not to think about what is “attractive” because it is new today, but what will be attractive over the decades.


These building design principles are intended to provide the parameters for design decisions at all levels of a project. When used in conjunction with the Landscape Design Principles in the next section of this chapter, they identify the challenges of designing here and help ensure the consistency in the buildings and grounds of the campus, providing a definitive sense of place that is widely appreciated and aligned with the goals of the Campus Master Plan.

These principles are not intended to impart a particular architectural style to campus buildings, but to create a framework within which buildings and grounds will develop with common references. They define a sense of place that is derived from existing buildings and the forces of the local climate. New buildings should apply these principles using appropriate cultural inferences, the requirements of various programs and technological developments in order to attach a particular time period to their design. The result should be buildings that form groupings and are integral to the campus, reinforcing the fabric and feeling of the campus and not individualistic buildings in the landscape. They should create a synergy or gestalt.

The framework of these principles is divided into five parts: Density, Building Typology, Massing, Composition, and Orientation.


The Campus Master Plan proposes building footprints that support the creation of outdoor space and respect the existing density of development on campus. Future development density will vary between the core, natural areas and the agrarian areas of campus. 

  1. Campus Core  - The density of the core campus is modeled on the historic core of campus, particularly the areas from Dimond Library and Thompson Hall to Rudman Hall and James Hall. Buildings within the core campus are considered to be relatively tall, generally four to five stories, with relatively small footprints. The open spaces created are relatively intimate and are strongly interconnected. The densest part of the core campus, which is framed by James Hall on one corner and Paul Creative Arts Center on the diagonal corner, has a footprint density of about 30% of the land area, and a floor area density of about 110%. The Great Lawn and the line of buildings that frame it from New Hampshire Hall to Hamilton Smith has densities about half that, and interestingly is comparable to the average densities for the entire campus core.  The most tightly defined quadrangle on campus is the one framed by Huddleston Hall and Alexander Hall.  It has a footprint density of 20%, and a floor area density of 90%.
  2. Agrarian - The density on campus beyond the core takes on a more agrarian nature, with buildings generally two to three stories. Buildings are grouped into relatively tightly knit groupings, often surrounding a common open space. The land surrounding these clusters includes largely open space including athletic fields, paddocks, wetlands, and agricultural fields.
  3. Natural Areas  - In areas where natural areas are adjacent to the proposed floor area density may be increased to minimize the impact on existing forested areas. Areas of particular attention include expansion of the Gables housing and the expanded campus core adjacent to the Oyster River and near the College Woods. In these areas, building footprints should be minimized in order to diminish the impact of new construction on natural areas. Landscape strategies in these areas should incorporate existing woodlands, meadows and waterways.

Building Typology

Typology is used to determine the role of the building within the greater context of the campus. Most buildings anticipated in the Campus Master Plan are intended to support the creation of outdoor rooms. Some buildings will act as primary focal points of long vistas or as the end of an outdoor space. Design of buildings should take into account the role of the structure on campus and its relative significance to the campus as a whole.

  1. Linear - Linear buildings typically form the edges of major open spaces or streets. These buildings have one primary face, directed to the open space that acts as their “address”. Pedestrian traffic often moves along this edge or around the building along its short sides, making these two sides secondary facades. It is expected that linear buildings will include foot print articulations to create more interesting forms and relief.
  2. Compound - Compound buildings, often referred to as “letter buildings”, frequently use their components to create outdoor space. These buildings may also contribute to the definition of exterior spaces, creating a less formal edge. Forecourts, internal courtyards, and atriums are often the result of letter buildings and should be made public. These buildings can also be used to shield service courts, although this exposes more interior space to noise, possible air quality issues, and limited views.
  3. Centralized – Most every building in the campus core is a centralized building, often acting as the focal point of an important exterior space or vista. As a focal point, pedestrian traffic may come from multiple directions, causing these buildings to have no back. All sides of these buildings must be considered fronts and service access must be carefully considered and discretely provided.


Massing is used to relate a building to its immediate context with reference to adjacent buildings and topography. Massing is the result of the scale, height, and footprint of a building and generally determines the relationship of the building to pedestrians. Most buildings on campus have a relatively intimate relationship with pedestrians, which is typical of the character of New England liberal arts colleges. The massing should be made of simple rectilinear forms topped with sloped roofs, or a crown/hat of some form. Sloped roofs continue to be preferred for new buildings.

  1. Scale - Most buildings on the University’s campus are articulated in relation to the human body. It is essential to create building massing that is proportionately horizontal overall, but with segmented forms that create verticality. Each building design should incorporate human scale elements and details, and not be scale less forms and openings. Fenestration, materiality, and datum lines are used to create a comfortable relationship between person and building.
  2. Height - Recent buildings on campus have been tall (four to six stories) in proportion totheir footprint, maximizing the efficiency of land use. These buildings often have steep roof pitches with gable ends, accentuating their height along theshort axis of the building, while minimizing the scale along the broad axis.  Many of the older buildings have hipped roofs and dormers that help to reduce the perceived height of a building. 
  3. Footprint - Buildings on campus typically are thin in depth (55 to 85 feet), allowing forthe penetration of light and air. Primary façade lengths vary within threecategories:

    Large: 300 – 375 feet
    Moderate: 150 – 175 feet
    Small: 70 – 100 feet

    New buildings should be designed to keep façade lengths within the small and moderate categories.  When necessary, the façade of a longer building should be subdivided to make it feel like a set of smaller building forms.


Composition is used to relate the image of the building to other buildings on campus. Relating materials, details and building elements to a common palette is critical to the continuity of the campus character. It is anticipated that the typical campus character will evolve gradually over time through the filter of technological and material advancements.  All campus buildings need various levels of articulation to make them relate to person scale.  Patterns and shadow lines that are based on the functional characteristics of the material and the building forms are strongly encouraged.  Successful buildings on campus are typically of two material field types: brick in the campus core and brick or wood siding in the agrarian areas west of the campus core.

Core Campus - The Core Campus is bounded by Mill Road, College Woods, Lot A, The Gables, and Strafford Avenue. The following guidelines apply to facilities in this area:

    1. Exterior Walls - Brick is appropriate as an exterior material for its links to the existing texture of campus buildings and the local vernacular, while providing a durable, low maintenance building envelope. Among other characteristics, brick is generally available from local sources and has the ability to match the texture and color of adjacent buildings. Brick patterns and setbacks in the wall plane should be judiciously used to provide relief and to break up the mass of the wall plane, but should avoid articulating the thinness of typical cavity wall construction. Panels of cast stone, granite, and natural metal can used to articulate caps, wings, entry ways, and window openings. The masonry should appear to be bearing its weight (even if modern detailing allows it to be hung) and should be detailed to express thickness. Openings should be recessed with the depth of at least one brick.  Doors should be recessed at least the depth of a door swing whenever possible.  In the campus core the doors facing the main public way should be wood. 
    2. Pitched Roofs - Slate is common on campus buildings, and is an appropriate material for new buildings due to its’ local character, and durability under severe weather conditions common in the local climate. Metal roofs are also appropriate for campus buildings, particularly terne coated steel.  Special attention must be paid to ensure that all walkways and entrances are not in the path of ice and snow sliding off of a roof.  Porticos, gabled ends, or reorientation of pathways or doors need to be incorporated to ensure pedestrian safety during our typical winter conditions – snow guards or snow fences are inadequate.
    3. Openings and Trim - Windows, doors, dormers, water tables, and other features of campus buildings are generally light in color – either white or buff. These details should use metal, stone, or concrete to match the color and texture of existing buildings for durability and low maintenance.  Glazing should be subdivided into multiple human scale panels that are proportionate to the overall size of the window opening.  Generally, openings should be subdivided into panels no more than four sq ft. each.  Operable units should be provided in all offices, classrooms, conference rooms, lounges, and bedrooms.

Agrarian Areas - The area west of the campus core includes Leawood Orchard, the Leavitt Center, the Equine and Dairy Areas, the Horticultural Farm, and the woodlands as well as the Athletics and Recreation Fields. The following guidelines apply:

    1. Exterior Walls - Exterior walls should reflect the agrarian heritage of the campus with light construction wherever possible. Wood, vinyl or composite siding that looks like shingles or clapboards is recommended, although masonry is acceptable where required by program. Colors common to rural New England, particularly terra cotta, dark green, warm greys, and white, are acceptable for facilities in this area.
    2. Pitched Roofs - Shingles and metal roofing are appropriate for the west campus areas.
    3. Openings and Trim - Doors and windows reflecting the architecture of New England farms are encouraged. Metal, painted in coordination with other exterior materials, is recommended for durability. Details should be greatly simplified in this area and trim should reflect the restraint necessitated by the economy of rural New England.


Building forms should generally be orthogonal to streets and major pedestrian ways.  They should be set back allowing green space between the building and the public way.  The amount of setback should be proportional to the height of the building, a minimum of 1/3 the height is preferable.  Public entrances should face onto a common outdoor space that is frequently framed by other surrounding buildings.  Building faces should be positioned to partner with the adjacent building facades to frame inviting outdoor spaces.  It is preferred to have large common spaces facing south (interior and exterior).

D. Campus Grounds - Landscape Master Plan

Planning, designing, and managing a sustainable campus landscape requires blending goals for biodiversity and aesthetics with the day-to-day working needs of the university community.  A landscape design is sustainable only when it addresses the ongoing functional needs and aesthetic expectations of the campus community, as well as environmental issues.  At the University, this is a complex undertaking because of a variety of challenges.

Foremost among the challenges is the context of our climate and its relationship to our most active periods of the year.  Our school year runs primarily from September through the middle of May, and plants are dormant for most of this period.  Add to this that it could snow for at least half of this time.  The layout of plants and hardscapes can be ruined if not properly planned to accommodate snow removal and storage. And our winters frequently have rain, and can consist of freezing nights and day time thaws, resulting in icy conditions.  This results in frequent expansion and contraction causing construction details to pull apart. It also means that large amounts of salt and sand are frequently placed on walkways and steps to maintain safety.  Spring is typically slow to come, and it is frequently May before things really turn green.  These prevalent conditions must be factored into every site design decision.

Second is the challenge of maintaining a verdant landscape that is heavily used by pedestrians who don’t hesitate to create and use short cuts, who want to use every open space for playing games even when it rains.  This results in severe compaction and muddy bare spots.  Our maintenance dollars are stretched thin, so weeding of ground covers, and pruning of bushes is minimal at best. 

Lastly, we are challenged by the need to manage the movement and parking of service and delivery vehicles.  Both private and University service providers are trying to do their jobs, but often without appreciation for their impact on the walking campus experience for our students and faculty.  Our buildings have no backs, only fronts, so it is generally difficult to conceal service zones, and service access must be carefully integrated into both building and grounds design.

Yet with all of these challenges, we recognize that it is the landscape, and the exterior spaces framed by groups of buildings, that creates the collegiate feeling that we must sustain in order to achieve our overall mission as the states flag ship university. We aspire to have a campus environment that appears to be effortless in meeting these challenges, and actually is as low maintenance as possible. So it is imperative that the civil engineers and the landscape architects work in unison with University staff to address the functional details that will ultimately allow us to be successful.  


The University has developed a Landscape Master Plan that provides a holistic frame of reference for the design and management of the campus landscape by establishing design guidelines and landscape standards that foster sustainable design and management practices.  To ensure continuity, the Landscape Master Plan is founded upon the same planning values that guided the development of the overall Campus Master Plan.  These values are all based on tenets of sustainable design and management, and are described as follows:

Express the Academic Vision of the University - Landscape design and open space planning strive to improve the appearance and general condition of the University grounds to facilitate the recruitment and retention of an exceptional and diverse faculty, staff and student body. We recognize the landscape as an important educational resource and teaching tool fundamental to the successful fulfillment of the University’s Land Grant Mission. Open space planning recognizes the crucial role the campus grounds serve in sustaining a healthy and biodiverse community.

Support the Daily Life of the University - Campus open space needs to be designed to foster social interaction. Accommodations shall be made for a variety of uses ranging from large gathering spaces to small niches that facilitate casual encounters and quiet contemplation. Outdoor recreation areas shall be designed to accommodate multiple uses. Outdoor areas shall be designed to accommodate active recreation as well as other spontaneous activities. The campus landscape shall be enriched by the careful placement of durable seating, small scale landscaping, and public art. When active recreation is anticipated, appropriate soil and turf design will be based on athletic field design rather than for ornamental lawn conditions.

Preserve the New England Character of the Built and Natural Campus - Landscape design strives to reinforce the unique and authentic character of the regional landscape, incorporating the use of local building materials and native plant species whenever feasible. Open space planning and design strives to strengthen the campus’s unique sense of place by reinforcing the image of a small New England liberal arts college, preserving campus woodlands and groves, and reconnecting fragmented habitats and restoring degraded ecosystems. Open space planning and landscape design shall foster the development of a “walking campus” by reinforcing existing circulation patterns and strengthening pedestrian connections that are poorly defined.

Strengthen the Relationship with our Communities - Landscape design shall enhance the quality and character of campus edges. Landscaping, signage, lighting and other site amenities shall be used to enrich the interface between campus and community and minimize adverse impacts on adjacent neighborhoods.  Campus gateways shall be clearly defined and enhanced with landscape treatments that are inviting and announce arrival.  Open space planning shall strive for the development of outdoor spaces, such as hiking trails, which serve all members of Durham community, residents and students alike.

Regional Influences and the character of the landscape define a sustainable strategy - The campus is a microcosm of the larger region incorporating the towering white pines and the rugged outcrops that recall the mountains; the pastures, corn fields, barns and orchards reflecting images common to the river valleys; and the marshes and wetlands reminiscent of coastal inlets and waterways. When assimilated, these images collectively define the unique character of the campus landscape.  These are great teaching tools as well as images that define the campus.

Woodlands, Meadows and Farm Fields constitute a major portion of the campus open space system – These open spaces serve an important environmental, social and recreational role on campus.  They are also valuable educational resources and are highly valued as formal teaching laboratories and outdoor classrooms. It is important that they are protected.

Gateways, streetscapes, roads and walkways, bike facilities, are the essential components of access and mobility that must be handled carefully and sensitively in the framework of the walking campus concept.  The Campus Master Plan calls for the eventual displacement of many parking lots in the core campus, but solutions must maintain a balance between parking demands and open space considerations.

Campus Quadrangles are well-defined areas enclosed on three or more sides by academic or residential buildings. They represent one of the basic building blocks for defining campus open space, especially in the dense academic core. The well-defined character of a quadrangle strengthens its perception as an outdoor room. Consequently, quadrangles are expected to accommodate a multitude of active and passive uses, including social functions such as weekly BBQs and annual alumni receptions.

Campus courtyards are important campus open spaces. They serve as social hubs and “urban stages” upon which the drama of university life is played out. They are areas where social gathering and interaction occur. They should be spatially well-defined and flexible in design to accommodate a variety of events ranging in scale from political rallies and protests to solitary retreats. Courtyards should be designed and detailed to a pedestrian scale and are most successful when the automobile is excluded.

Campus Lawns serve a multitude of aesthetic, cultural, and environmental roles. Flowing freely around buildings and through open spaces, lawns create a sense of balance and harmony among diverse campus spaces.  Cultivating large expanses of turf is expensive, and can entail runoff of fertilizers and pesticides that may contaminate surface and ground water.  On the other hand, lawns, like trees and other plants, help minimize soil erosion, trap dust particles, filter and purify water, and moderate surface temperature and humidity

Campus gardens are developed very selectively and require a long-term maintenance plan that ensures their vitality. Gardens offer opportunities to reinforce the region’s unique sense of place by creating pockets of natural habitat that enhance biodiversity on campus. Generally preference is given to the use of native plants and a maintenance regimen that fosters natural succession.

Landscape Design Guidelines establish a framework for a sustainable strategy - These guidelines build upon, the campus’ rich design heritage by emphasizing simplicity, balance and ecological sensitivity. The detailed Landscape Design Guideline, which can be seen in their entirety in the Landscape Master Plan, are principle-based, founded on the tenets of sustainability and the belief that landscapes should be managed not simply maintained. They are flexible and allow for contemporary expression. Long-term management considerations must be weighted equally with issues of aesthetics and sustainability. These guidelines are divided into 3 parts:

  1. Landscape Preservation - A set of specific policies are delineated in the Landscape Master Plan to protect the campus landscape before, during and after construction. Construct envelopes to contain the construction activity, minimize utility impacts, preserve topsoil, and restore soil that is compacted during construction, as well as tree and root protection.
  2. Landscape Restoration - The University takes a proactive position with respect to the restoration of degraded landscapes, streams and wildlife habitats. Reconnecting the fragmented landscape, stream restoration, habitat restoration, and tree and plant management are all important elements of the restoration.
  3. Landscape Enhancement - These enhancements are meant to inform the general planning and standard site design policies and procedures. Adherence to the guidelines will ensure the development of an attractive and cohesive campus. Campus accessibility, safety, seating, stairs, walls, fences, grading, drainage.

While putting in place this comprehensive plan has given us a road map for a sustainable landscape, it has been very challenging to implement the design, construction and operational practices that execute this plan.  When doing an individual building project with a limited area of landscaping, there is still a strong tendency to think within the boundaries of the construction, rather than holistically.  Operationally, old habits die hard, and the people who are responsible for the day to day maintenance and care of the landscape often feel these ideas are imposed upon them and that more resources, equipment, and staffing are necessary to keep up with these sustainable approaches. 

E. Campus Circulation - Accessibility and Mobility

Ours is a walking campus. The academic buildings are all within a 10 minute walking circle, and the vast majority of our residence halls are within a 10 minute walk of the heart of campus. Over the past decade we have successfully implemented parking and transportation demand management policies and practices which have reduced private vehicle trips on campus. The university operates Campus Connector shuttle routes throughout the campus and Wildcat Transit commuter bus service to surrounding communities providing more than 1 million passenger trips per year. Intercity bus and rail service to Boston and Portland stop up to 10 times per day on campus. We have a rideshare program, Zipcar™ car-sharing, as well as taxi and bike programs on campus – all designed to reduce the need for private vehicle use. In addition, the university has an initiative building a fleet of natural gas, electric and biodiesel vehicles.  We operate parking as a system, not assigned to a given building. Our parking lots have spaces available all the time, but not always in the preferred core campus locations. 

We are committed to making all buildings and areas of campus accessible to all faculty, students, staff, and visitors. We have standards that exceed ADA and building codes for accessibility for the disabled. Universal access to all is encouraged. At the same time we acknowledge that our campus has significant topographic challenges that preclude us from providing direct accessibility along every route between buildings. 

The Campus Master Plan establishes a framework to improve the walkability, accessibility, and the character of the campus. Based on the recommendations developed by the Transportation Policy Committee (TPC) and approved by the President in 2003, this framework seeks to manage the transportation system in a rational and economically sustainable manner to:

  1. Reduce personal and community inefficiencies
  2. Expand transportation options
  3. Enhance mobility and convenience
  4. Improve visitor access
  5. Reduce harmful impact on the environment
  6. Foster a sense of place

The University faces challenges in balancing the competing interests of parking, mobility, access, campus identity, and environmental impact. From a spatial perspective, the division of the campus by Main Street and the railroad corridor creates unique challenges. Main Street is a critical corridor for campus access and for regional mobility. The Campus Plan recognizes that it is necessary to maintain vehicular traffic flow on Main Street while reducing pedestrian-vehicular conflicts, and providing reliable intra-campus transit service. The rail line offers a new Main Street by which visitors view the University and arrive and depart from campus, while at the same time creating a barrier for east west movement across campus lands. From a policy and financial perspective, additional parking, bicycle, pedestrian and transit infrastructure require enhanced investment and sustainable funding mechanisms.

The Transportation Policy Committee concluded that there was a shortfall of roughly 600 desirable parking spaces on campus and that many aspects of parking policy and transit service were exacerbating the problem. The Committee provided short and long-term transportation demand management (TDM) recommendations that included:

  • Continued development of convenient transportation alternatives
  • A zone approach to the parking permit system
  • Continued increases in on-campus housing for students
  • Significant improvements to the visitor experience on campus
  • Efforts to manage class scheduling to disperse peak periods of demand
  • Eventual construction of parking structures at Lot A and Lot B

Success in implementing these recommendations varies considerably with significant increases in on-campus housing and other lot consolidations dependent upon implementation of sustainable, wide ranging transportation alternatives occurring, but no change in class schedules and no progress with parking permit funding mechanisms which would support these infrastructure investments. The plan supports all these initiatives and further calls for the removal of small inefficient lots on the core campus in order to reduce congestion, enhance the pedestrian experience and reclaim green space.  

The University street system facilitates a 10-minute walk to all points within the core campus. As all transit users are also pedestrians, an efficient transit system will be maintained through this and other corridors for reliable and timely access between the West Edge Lot, core campus, and local residential neighborhoods. Transit access will be considered and supported in all development plans, and the transit system will be run with a safe, comfortable, technologically sound, and fuel-efficient fleet.

Phased construction of parking structures on A and B Lots will eliminate inefficient parking areas in the core campus and ensure an adequate supply, including replacement of spaces lost to construction. However, at this time there is no funding or schedule for constructing these structures. Surface lot reduction also will improve the character of the core campus. Throughout the effort to consolidate surface lots, the University will maintain ADA and service accessibility, consistent with the goals and vision of the Campus Master Plan.


Patterns of vehicular, service, transit, bicycle and pedestrian circulation are modified under the Campus Master Plan to improve the quality of the grounds and the efficiency of circulation. Within the academic core, small interstitial parking areas will be eliminated through parking consolidation, and roads will be limited to service, transit, and emergency access. The plan provides potential transit access along Academic Way, College Road, and Quad Way to improve the efficiency of campus shuttles and return these areas to pedestrians. Access across campus quadrants will be improved through penetrations under the rail line, reconfiguration of Main Street, and an enhanced network of streets within the peripheral residential ring.

The pedestrian and bike circulation network have and will continue to see considerable improvement through the landscape improvements listed above, and through the following improvements in shared ways, streetscape improvements and dedicated site features:

Main Street improvements - The University and Durham have worked together to improve the Main Street corridor from downtown to the western gateway to campus with bike lanes, safer pedestrian crossing points, and new lighting. Where appropriate, bus pullouts/shelters and bicycle/pedestrian improvements have been incorporated throughout the corridors.

The Campus Master Plan also recommends redesign and reuse of College Road and Academic Way, which would be closed to general traffic and become pedestrian/transit/service corridors.

The partial closure of Academic Way - The creation of a wide pedestrian path will facilitate east-west pedestrian movement, while removing a barrier to the flow of pedestrian traffic from them academic core to the residential quads to the south. This change will be accommodated in conjunction with a one-way route and drop off plaza in front of PCAC.

The North and South Underpasses and east-west mobility - An enhanced street network will interweave the campus and create an accessible, appropriately scaled neighborhood west of the tracks. Vehicular access to the core campus will be provided by three routes (two vehicular underpasses, one pedestrian underpass (Library Way) and the existing Main Street bridge) and by reducing congestion on Main Street by traffic dispersion. This extended network of streets, along with the closing of College Road to general traffic, will encourage significantly more campus-bound vehicles to use the enhanced west gateway.  The south underpass is now in place, but the extension of South Drive to Main Street is still unfunded.  The north underpass goes through a brownfield site controlled by the Town of Durham, and there is no schedule for this construction.

Enhancement of pedestrian connections - As the east campus continues to evolve, it will be important to improve pedestrian connections between the MUB and quadrangle formed by Huddleston and Mills Halls and the open quadrangle defined by Christensen and Williamson residence halls. The promenade will be designed as a primary campus walkway and vehicular traffic will be limited to campus shuttles and service vehicles.

The east and west extensions of Library Way - Strengthening connections between the academic core and facilities west of the railroad tracks. To the west, Library Way will extend through the railroad underpass and connect to the expanding campus core. A spur connection will lead to the outdoor athletic facilities and field house. To the east, Library Way will extend from its present terminus behind Thompson Hall directly to the entrance plaza in front of the MUB. Through similar paving materials, site furnishings, and other design elements, the extension will unify these two distinct areas of the campus while creating a safer and more pleasant pedestrian experience.


Appropriate bicycle and pedestrian design elements have been integrated into new streetscapes as on Main Street through a series of improvements occurring 2008-2010. The redevelopment of College Road and Academic Way will provide streetscapes oriented around transit, pedestrian and bicycle use. On heavy travel ways, bicycle and pedestrian uses will be segregated. In support of walking and bicycling, the plan proposes expanded bicycle infrastructure, including racks and storage areas, and encourages expansion of intra-campus bike transportation. The University will continue to work with the state, Durham, and regional partners to develop safe and effective bicycle routes to and from campus. Improvement of campus-wide signage and way finding systems is encouraged, including new campus gateway markers. The existing directional signage provides information to drivers after they enter the University, and the signage system needs to be updated and amplified for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.


Consolidation of small, inefficient lots into larger central parking facilities will reduce local traffic created by drivers searching for parking. In coordination with a proximity-based zone system, the number of parking spaces on campus will be maintained with carefully controlled expansion over the horizon of the plan. A proposed parking structure on A Lot and, potentially, B Lot will enable the University to manage parking more efficiently by eliminating inefficient parking areas within the core campus and replacing spaces lost to construction. A reduced number of surface lots is consistent with the goals and vision of the Campus Plan.  The Campus Master Plan also sets out target maximum increase in parking over

Link to the University Transportation Services and Transportation Policy Committee:
Link to UNH Sustainable Transportation:

F. Campus Energy and Utilities - Utility Master Plan

The University has invested heavily in infrastructure upgrades to increase energy efficiencies. We continually look for ways to renovate buildings to make them more energy efficient.  We have put in place effective ways to measure our progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and developed an organizational structure that brings together around one table the diverse interests of students, faculty, staff, and administration relative to energy and climate issues.

Fundamental change, either physical or cultural, does not come easily for us and entails many significant risks.  The University has always been a resource-limited institution, and this has fostered a practical attitude and an ability to develop creative strategies and partnerships.  The campus has embraced the sustainable energy effort at all levels.  Students, staff, faculty, administration and, perhaps most significantly, the Board of Trustees, have all proposed and supported creative solutions and accepted the shared risks.  One of the most significant results of this integrated effort is the realization that saving energy, even when significant investments are required up front, also saves money. As the in-state business magazine once proclaimed, the University is both “Lean and Green.”  

The University was awarded the first Energy Star labels for residence halls in the country, and has been listed in the top 5% of energy efficient research universities by the US Department of Energy. We have also outlawed incandescent lighting, established a purchasing standard that requires Energy Star office equipment and appliances, motor replacement policies, and other policy initiatives.  All have contributed to the University of New Hampshire saving more than $4 Million annually in energy costs compared to peer institutions.

The University has recently made a major energy investment transforming our traditional central heating plant into a combined heat and power plant, commonly referred to as cogeneration.  This provides up to 80% of the campus electricity and provides heat for most campus buildings and steam absorption cooling for some of our biggest cooling loads.  This plant is now fueled primarily by methane gas from a large regional landfill in Rochester, NH operated by Waste Management Inc. The gas is processed and runs in a 12 mile pipe to campus.  This is considered a renewal energy source, which provides up to 85% of our total campus energy needs.  We are currently selling renewable energy credits to others.

In the end, we believe the decisions that have been made have resulted in a unique identity and set of sustainable practices which will stand the test of time and position the institution for balanced and smart growth over the long-term.

We always prefer known and tested technologies for our building systems that best fit our campus and its culture.  Our main challenges are educating the staff and building users in how to utilize the central controls to their best advantage.  This means giving people a limited level of personal control to allow them to come in and turn on the heat or air conditioning in their office or lab on the weekends or at night when the building systems are typically turned back.  It means installing sensors to remind researchers to not leave the fume hoods in their open positions when people aren’t working at them.  It means educating people that they shouldn’t expect 75 degrees in their office in the winter and 68 degrees in the summer.




The University of New Hampshire owns and operates most of the utility systems on the campus. The primary systems include a large district hot water system, multiple smaller district chilled water systems, a steam and condensate distribution system, and 34.5 kV and 4.16 kV electrical distribution systems. The University also has several secondary systems that include the storm drainage, sanitary drainage, water supply, natural gas supply, and telecommunication systems.

The University of New Hampshire has developed a powerful and robust Geographic Information System (GIS) database which contains detailed information of the existing campus utilities. Over the past few years, much of the buried piping and conduit systems as well as the non-buried elements of the utility systems have been located and entered into GIS. Specific information such as size, material, location, depth and other details have been painstakingly logged into the database.  It is essential that any field modifications or additions to utility systems be recorded in GIS, so coordination with University staff during construction is critical.

The campus utility systems included in GIS and available to consultants:

  1. Steam and condensate generation and distribution
  2. Hot water generation and distribution
  3. Multiple district chilled water generations and distributions
  4. Electrical generation and distribution
  5. Storm drainage
  6. Water supply
  7. Sanitary drainage
  8. Natural gas supply
  9. Telecommunication network and central equipment

Sustainable utility master planning requires a different perspective of utility system operation. This perspective is guided by the overall goal of providing necessary utility services through consumption of the least possible resources. The University has taken large steps toward overall sustainability of the utility systems with the installation of a large cogeneration plant and fueling that plant with landfill gas. Continuing work on campus is guided by several core tenets for sustainable master planning.

Synergies in utility systems are areas where a system or system component can provide an increased overall effect by combining functions with other utility systems or system components. When successful the result is a higher efficiency or improved utilization in energy resource, a material resource or a manpower resource. We strongly encourage our design team to look for synergistic opportunities within and across projects.

Reduce Inefficiencies
Over the natural course of operating campus infrastructure systems inefficiencies can begin to increase. These inefficiencies might exist in the fuel resource, material resource, or manpower resource. Minimization or elimination of these inefficiencies can dramatically improve utility operations and can make resources available for improvements in other utility systems.

New Technology
The application of new technology is a natural result of any planning effort. However new technology applications should be pragmatic. New technologies should be reasonably proven and properly sized to fit in well with existing systems and targeted at providing either synergies or inefficiency reductions.

The Utility Master Plan recommends several areas of campus for geothermal heating and cooling. Solar water heating technologies are recommended to be applied on the building level as each design develops. Fuel cell technology does not fit well with the existing cogeneration capabilities on campus, and are not recommended.

The University of New Hampshire Utility Master Plan is available by request to all design consulting engineers under contract with the University for their limited use, and is not for further distribution.