Lombardo Welcome Center

The Lombardo Welcome Center at Millersville University is a net zero energy building, meaning it produces as much energy as it consumes. 

Sometimes it’s best to work smarter, not harder.

Millersville University’s new Lombardo Welcome Center, which produces more energy than it consumes, does just that. And now the university has been recognized for it.

The U.S. Department of Education this week announced its annual Green Ribbon Schools — academic institutions, from elementary schools to universities, that have made strides in sustainability and reducing their environmental impact.

Millersville, one of the 53 schools selected, was the only Pennsylvania university recognized.

“This award speaks to all of the hard work that Millersville’s faculty, staff and students have done through a variety of efforts to become more sustainable,” said Chris Steuer, Millersville’s sustainability director. “It captures our work to restore the environment as well as improve human health and well-being, and values the role of education in achieving both.”

The Education Department highlighted Millersville’s Lombardo Center, which incorporates 528 solar panels on the roof to generate electricity, 20 geothermal wells drilled 400 feet into the ground to heat and cool the building, and several rain gardens to treat storm water.

Furniture inside the building is made from 40,000 pounds of recycled materials, and the landscape consists entirely of native plant species.

Built in 2017, the $7.5 million admissions facility greets nearly 10,000 prospective students every year.

The university’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2040 was another highlight, along with its $11.5 million project to upgrade its electrical infrastructure and other energy-efficient projects.

“The university’s commitment to various dimensions of sustainability are evident in its coursework, its administrative structure, and, increasingly, in its infrastructure,” the department said.

Other Pennsylvania honorees were Eden Hall Upper Elementary School in Gibsonia and State College Friends School in State College.