2019 SCUP National Conference Takeaways

Our team had a fantastic trip to Seattle where we presented at the 2019 SCUP National Conference (July 13-16), took in incredible sights and learned about some of the most pressing issues that are transforming higher-ed planning.

We heard first-hand how schools and their partners are tackling a number of pressing issues to keep them competitive and poised for success. These are some of the topics at the top of university planners’ minds:

1. Reducing and Eliminating Campus Carbon Emissions 

Many campuses are finding innovative pathways to achieving carbon neutrality that are feasible enough for others to build on. Several sessions shed light on this urgent topic, including one that highlighted how University of California schools are examining ways to comprehend a campus’s carbon profile, setting goals for reductions and exploring a range of renewable energy solutions including decarbonizing through electrification. 

In designing custom solutions for our clients, BVH looks at reducing carbon footprint through incorporating renewable resources such as photovoltaic, wind generation and ground source heat pumps, and increasing building efficiencies that stretches across all engineering disciplines in a coordinated manner.

Click here to read about Quinnipiac University’s York Hill Campus where BVH conducted a detailed study of energy usage and explored options for electrical and thermal distribution systems. This major infrastructure project encompassed 240 acres and included the implementation of a new master plan with a construction value of $300 million. 

The final design includes a central high-efficiency boiler plant, a high-efficiency chiller plant, and a campus-wide primary electric distribution system with automatic load shed and backup power. The design also incorporates a microturbine trigeneration system to provide electrical power while recovering waste heat to help heat and cool the campus.

2. How Shifting Demographics Will Affect College Enrollment and Finances

We are on the verge of a sharp contraction in the pool of future college students. Although affected in different ways, nearly all institutions will confront losses in competitiveness, revenue, or both due to this shift. Interesting data in this presentation by Bryan Harvey from UMass Amherst who discussed how schools can prepare, with great food for thought on how our industry can help institutions facing steeper competition, lower enrollment and leaner funding scenarios.

3. Using Public Private Partnerships (P3) to Construct New Buildings

We see this trend up close as more institutions opt for public-private partnerships (P3) for major facility projects. As part of project teams embracing the P3 model, BVH is familiar with the challenges, increased efficiencies and contractual differences P3 presents as compared to other delivery methods. To help determine if a P3 process is a good fit for a potential project, one session outlined three fundamental components of P3s: understanding the different models, assessing ROI for the institution, and engaging stakeholders to help college planners determine whether their next project should be a P3.

Click here to view the Wickford Junction Train Station Parking Garage project, a Public Private Partnership project that BVH completed with the State of Rhode Island and developer Bob Cioe, a local private developer who envisioned a mixed-use commercial development on a property adjacent to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor with a commuter rail station. 

4. Success for All

How can college leaders help a more diverse striving student population succeed on their journeys through higher education? Keynote speaker Patrick Methvin of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation inspired the crowd with a discussion of his work to substantially increase the number of Americans achieving a post-high school credential and eliminate educational attainment disparities by race and income. His speech confirmed for BVH that our work with the ACE Mentor Program, as well as workforce and internship initiatives at high schools and universities across New England is helping to address racial and income gaps.

Recommended Reading

Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education, Nathan D. Grawe
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things are Better Than You Think, by Hans Rosling.


As if strolling through Pike Place Market, watching fish go airborne while sipping an OG Starbucks wasn’t enough of an iconic Emerald City experience, we had a wonderful time checking out a few other landmarks that made for a memorable trip.

People lounging at Amazon HQ 
Richard Serra’s Wake at Olympic Sculpture Park
Chihuly Garden and Glass