• Aug. 17
tion is a vital market segment for Warshauer—“one of the bright spots,” he said. “The New Jersey economy is still sluggish after the recession, Hur- ricane Sandy, and the political uncer- tainties surrounding the New Jersey governor. But every single college, university, and community college in the state has expanded,” Dunn ex- plained. “It’s a great business for us since we’re so diverse. We have anything and every- thing they need: commercial lighting, lighting controls, solar, generators, switchgear, and every- thing electrical, from basic supplies to HDMI cabling, USB receptacles, and WiFi hotspots.” Four hundred miles west, Cardello Electric Supply in Pittsburgh is also enjoying the higher education bounty. Jim Willig, outside sales, com- mercial and specifica- tion lighting, reported, “Our business with colleges and universities has doubled, maybe even tripled, over the past three to five years. They have really gotten on the LED bandwagon. Almost every job is 90% LEDs, and there has been a big surge in the past two years in lighting controls—and it keeps increasing. There’s a lot of new construction, sports facilities, and theater-type buildings, and every- thing is green.” Dunn shared his observations of the market’s evolution over the past few years: “The economic recession really did open a lot of eyes. The re- cession drove students to the commu- nity colleges. They couldn’t afford a four-year university at $25,000 to $40,000 a year. But they could com- plete the first two years at a commun- ity college for a couple thousand dol- lars a year, work, save their money, and then finish their degrees at four- year universities. The community colleges were and are a viable option for getting college done at bargain- basement prices.” Confronted with a welcome influx of students—some, Dunn maintains, who hadn’t planned to go to college at all until the recession hit—the community colleges leapt into a frenzy of renovation, expansion, and new construction. Their new “smart” build- ings attracted even more students since infrastructure at many four-year in- stitutions was out of date. “With the price advantage plus smart facilities, now everyone wanted to go down the two- year track and then transfer to a four- year college. How- ever, then there was a backlog of kids waiting to start their junior year at four-year schools,” said Dunn. The building boom flowed, to- gether with community college gradu- ates, onto the campuses of the four- year institutions, which made their own smart investments in technol- ogy, open learning environments, and sustainability.
The Student Experience
Millennials pushed open the digital door through which more than 23 million Generation Z young people marched onto the scene. Within the next five years, this will become the fastest-growing generation in both the workplace and the marketplace, persistent and influential socially, culturally, and economically. Culture-driven competition is an additional force driving the wide- spread expansion and renovation on U.S. campuses, according to Willig: “Carnegie Mellon is a good example because it does what it needs to do. It’s a very high-end school, very pro- gressive, and people come from all over the world to go there. Carnegie Mellon is constantly building new buildings, and everything is green and updated with LEDs, solar, and EV chargers.” Carnegie Mellon has some stiff competition on the sustainability front. Universities may lead the nation on green building. Ninety- seven percent of Harvard’s buildings are LEED certified, including notori- ously energy-intensive laboratories. Comparatively small Berea Col- lege in the Kentucky Appalachians earned LEED Platinum Certifica- tion with the highest-scoring LEED- certified residence hall in the world. It boasts some of the features of the Living Building Challenge, a stan- dard even more rigorous than LEED. The Science Complex on the campus of the Los Angeles College generates more electricity than it consumes, achieving difficult Net Zero Energy (NZE) goals. Three more schools with NZE status are the office building Crotty Hall at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the West Village housing community at the University of California Davis, and a science laboratory at Bristol College in Fall River, Mass. Dunn agrees with Willig regard- ing the intense competition for in- creasingly choosy college students: “To attract today’s student, you have to be on the cutting edge of technology with WiFi and USB re- ceptacles everywhere. Students want to have everything they want— Chipotle, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, laundry, yoga classes—all contained and walkable so they don’t have to leave campus. Universities are building miniature strip malls right on their campuses, like little downtowns.”
The New Jersey econ- omy is still sluggish after the recession, Hurricane Sandy, and the politi- cal uncertainties surrounding the New Jersey governor. But every single college, university, and com- munity college in the state has expanded.
—JIM DUNN, Warshauer Electric Supply
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