Solar Panels and Geothermal Wells: A ‘Net-Zero’ Business School Opens in Connecticut

Southern Connecticut State University's new 60,000-square-foot business school building is the state's first net-zero energy structure.
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Updated on September 20, 2023
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  • Southern Connecticut State University's new business school building has a net-zero carbon footprint.
  • The building is heated and cooled by geothermal wells and powered by nearby solar panels.
  • The 60,000-square-foot building includes a behavioral lab area and an area for financial and data analytics.
  • Prospective business students are increasingly focused on climate change and sustainability as companies embrace related roles.

Business students and employers alike are increasingly focused on sustainability — and the new home of the Southern Connecticut State University School of Business reflects that interest.

Powered by nearby solar panels and heated and cooled by geothermal wells, the 60,000-square-foot building is Connecticut's first net-zero carbon footprint structure, according to a press release from the school.

The building opened this fall and features a behavioral lab area, a large community room, an administrative suite for the school's master of business administration (MBA) program, and an area for financial market and data analytics, according to the release.

School officials — alongside Steely Dan co-founder and prolific guitarist Jeffrey "Skunk" Baxter — officially unveiled the new building at a Sept. 15 ceremony.

Southern Connecticut State interim President Dwayne Smith said at the ceremony that the building "will be a springboard to continued success," according to the release.

Rachel Cunningham-Exavier, assistant director of Southern Connecticut State's Office of Career and Professional Development, said the new building meets new opportunities for the school's students.

"This building means progress, connections, newness, and so many potential networking opportunities for students," Cunningham-Exavier said in the release.

The opening of a net-zero business school building comes as prospective students look to climate change and sustainability as a relevant topic in their curriculum.

The United Kingdom-based consulting firm CarringtonCrisp found earlier this year that climate change entered the top 10 most important topics for prospective master of business administration students earlier this year for the first time in its survey's history.

CarringtonCrisp attributed that increased demand for climate education to students seeing companies embrace climate change-based positions like chief climate and sustainability officers.

Various business schools have embraced climate change and sustainability in major moves this year. The international business school INSEAD, for example, announced plans earlier this year to launch a new MBA curriculum focused on sustainability. Sustainability will be a central point of all 14 of the degree's core courses.

Stanford University in June announced an "ecopreneurship" program as a collaboration between its Graduate School of Business and the new Doerr School of Sustainability. That program will feature grants and hands-on projects to help students create "public, private, and nonprofit-sector organizations" with a focus on sustainability.