New Initiative to Create Residence Hall of the Future

(ACUHOI Press Release)
Newark, New Jersey, January 25 – It’s no longer enough for a college residence hall to just provide four walls and a bed. The campus housing of today must foster learning and comfort while balancing environmental and technological concerns and do so in a way that’s affordable to both the school and the students.

Now a group of experts, including John Cusack, Executive Director of the New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability, are convening to design the next generation of campus housing as part of the 21st Century Project. The group has scheduled a 21st Century Project summit for February 5-8, 2006 in Chicago

The 21st Century Project is a multi-phased program that will culminate in the construction of a brand new, state-of-the-art college residential facility. Sponsored by the Association of College and University Housing Officers – International (ACUHO-I) and its member organizations, this prototype will show how better to accommodate the ever-changing role residence halls play in the collegiate experience and in higher education institutions.

Federal agencies such as the Department of Energy, Department of Education, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development will also be recruited to participate at various stages of the process.

“We are bringing together a wide variety of experts – from both the academic and professional side — to help us approach the project from every conceivable angle,” said Michael Coakley, project coordinator and also Assistant Vice President of Student Life at Northern Illinois University. “The sustainability and economics of this project will be considered just as highly as sociological and educational factors. Aesthetics and pragmatism will be weighed against each other. It will epitomize all we look for in a quality residence hall.”

Association members are currently collecting and synthesizing data corresponding with ongoing trends in university housing as well as the expanding technological advances within the campus environment. This data, along with the knowledge and experiences of other attendees will be shared at the February summit.

Later that Spring, the group will present its findings to participating college and university officials as well as to vendors, development agencies, and architecture firms.

Participating firms will then begin to produce conceptual plans and massing options for the defined facilities. From these, a committee will choose final designs or design components. That building will later be constructed on a college campus.

“This is not simply a group of people brainstorming a wish list of ideas,” said Sallie Traxler, ACUHO-I Executive Director. “When the project is complete, there will be tangible evidence of our work and we fully expect it to serve as a model for the college residence halls to be built around the world for the next generation.”

For more information about this project and the summit, go to and click the 21st Century Project button.

About the Association of College and University Housing Officers – International
The Association of College and University Housing Officers International (ACUHO-I) is the authoritative source of research, resources, and inspiration to promote the professional development of its members. Founded in 1955, the association creates value through services, information, and collegial relationships that are indispensable to its members.

Media inquiries can be directed to James Baumann, ACUHO-I Director of Communications and Marketing, at 614.292.1623 or by e-mail at

NJ Brain Trust Takes on Global Warming

UNITED NATIONS – 30 January 2006 – In a recent announcement, John Cusack was named as executive Director of the New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability (NJHEPS) to lead the NJHEPS coalition of over 40 New Jersey colleges and universities representing thousands of faculty, students and administrators, who are working to take on the challenges of sustainability issues such as global warming, environmental degradation, energy efficiency, education and the adoption of green technology.

“We are most pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. John Cusack as Executive Director of NJHEPS, New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability,” said Dr. Donald Wheeler, NJHEPS past president. “He has demonstrated an outstanding record of leadership in this key field for over 30 years as an engineer, corporate CEO, university instructor and advisor to government & university commissions. John has worked with scores of leaders in this rapidly expanding field. He is equally at ease explaining the business case for sustainability to university financial officers, the educational message to professors and presidents, and the excitement to students. On climate change issues, where NJHEPS has done landmark work, John can play a critical role in moving New Jersey higher education to the next level.” [Please see John Cusack’s full bio here].

“Global warming and related sustainability issues have serious consequences in the world, the nation, and right here in New Jersey,” said Cusack. “The rising sea levels along our coastlines, intensive storms, the quality of our air, the energy efficiency of our businesses, our dependency on foreign oil and energy, power outages, investments and job creation, the competitiveness of our financial, biotech, chemicals, pharmaceutical and other industries, and other serious problems are all related to our ability to maintain our environmental, social and economic sustainability,” he said. “These are global problems that affect us right here at home.”

“Complex problems need complex solutions and NJHEPS is mobilizing the brainpower in its 40+ colleges and universities to develop and adopt new technology, curriculum, educational resources and understanding to face these challenges,” he said. “Out of every crisis comes an opportunity and we are looking for the opportunities.”

In his new role as Executive Director, Cusack aims to expand the scope of NJHEPS’s activities to include more integration of sustainability issues into the curriculums of business schools and other professional schools as part of NJHEP’s traditional role in higher education. Cusack says, “Future business and political leaders have to learn how to manage sustainably, if we are to have a truly sustainable economy, environment and planet for our children and grandchildren”.

“Sustainability means bottom-line issues that affect businesses: productivity, profits, costs, jobs, investments, foreign trade and efficiencies. The solutions to these problems not only reduce global warming but also cut costs and improve competitiveness, profits and jobs. Therefore we want to see business and higher education work together to help solve these problems.”

“We need new sustainability projects that combine economic competitiveness and educational programs in such areas as design, finance, green investments, campus and community planning, energy audits, carbon emissions credits, environmental marketing, trade, and integrated programs in New Jersey higher education.
Higher education needs to adopt new technologies not only to improve efficiencies, but to also provide intelligent models for others on how to prepare for the future. It is critical that new generations of young people be educated on the nature and solutions of the key sustainability problems facing the world. Our campuses should be doing this by example, instruction and research.”

With the assistance of funding from NJBPU and other organizations, NJHEPS promotes the adoption of alternative energy: solar, wind and geothermal generation on campuses and beyond. NJHEPS works with colleges, state agencies, muncipalities and businesses to develop energy efficient buildings and other technologies that help reduce the environmental footprint and provide key leadership for the future.

NJHEPS works on project design and financing of green projects and on transportation, housing, office buildings, new equipment, utilities, master planning and energy audit solutions, and is recognized as one of the leaders in this field.

“NJHEPS has a history of successful partnerships,” said Dr. Donald Wheeler, past president and founder. “We have a partnership with over 40 colleges and universities, we work with the NJ University President’s Council on CO2 greenhouse emissions, we work with different government departments, the State Bureau of Public Utilities, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Education Department, local governments, foundations, businesses, the National Science Foundation, the USEPA and leading research scientists.”

For the past 13 years, Mr. Cusack has been the founder and principal of Gifford Park Associates, a management and policy consulting firm specializing in the areas of strategic sustainability management, climate change risks, and the relationship between the environmental and financial performance of publicly traded companies. Major clients have included the Chicago Climate Exchange, Toyota North America, Bank of America, Sterling Planet, Duke Energy, Energy East, environmental venture capital funds in the US and Europe, the US Government, the UNEP Finance Initiative, the government of the United Arab Emirates, and a number of startup companies and financial funds operating in the areas of carbon credit finance, environment technology, and sustainability.

Prior to founding Gifford Park Associates in 1993, Mr. Cusack spent 20 years in the energy & environmental industries with ABB, Combustion Engineering, Con Edison and TAMS. Major GPA consulting projects have included serving as:

  • • startup CEO for Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, the world’s leading provider of environmental performance ratings & research to global financial institutions and corporations,
  • • rebuilding (after 9-11) the NY office of the Environmental Risk Consulting Practice of Marsh, the world’s leading risk management and brokerage firm,
  • • the startup President of ABB Sanitec, the global medical waste treatment technology company, based in New Jersey, and,
  • • the Vice President for Corporate Programs of the World Environment Center, a non-advocacy NGO promoting sustainability around the world,
  • • the lead organizer of the first US seminar on the financial risks & opportunities of climate change for the US insurance industry, co-sponsored by the CT Insurance, Environment & Treasury departments.
  • He has a Masters in Environmental Engineering & Science from Manhattan College, an MBA from NYU Stern School, and is a registered Professional Engineer. He also serves on the boards of the NJ Corporation for Advanced Technologies, the Environmental Business Association of New York State (where he is President of the Board of Directors), and the Center for Economic and Environmental Partnership.

    Please see John Cusack’s full bio here
    The New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability (NJHEPS) is a consortium of over 40 New Jersey higher education institutions that is housed at the NJIT Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization associated with NJHEPS’ host institution, the New Jersey Institute of Technology. NJHEPS is funded through member dues, grants, and contract work.

    NJHEPS mission is to partner with colleges and universities to further the world’s understanding of sustainability through teaching, research, operations and outreach to businesses, government, other groups and the public.

    NJHEPS goal is to communicate and inform various constituencies about the importance of sustainability, to promote partnerships that develop the understanding of these and similar values and goals, and to increase the practice of sustainability by building skills, changing attitudes and providing resources.

    © Gifford Park Associates