With Historic Gift, Yale Divinity School Plans Sustainable Housing

George and Carol Bauer are contributing $15 million to support the Divinity School’s sustainable Living Village.

Gregory E. Sterling, Henry L. Slack Dean of Yale Divinity School; Adrian Sterling; Carol Bauer; George Bauer.
Gregory E. Sterling, Henry L. Slack Dean of Yale Divinity School; Adrian Sterling; Carol Bauer; George Bauer.
Gregory E. Sterling, Henry L. Slack Dean of Yale Divinity School; Adrian Sterling; Carol Bauer; George Bauer.
Gregory E. Sterling, Henry L. Slack Dean of Yale Divinity School; Adrian Sterling; Carol Bauer; George Bauer.

Yale Divinity School (YDS) has received a leadership gift from George and Carol Bauer to support construction of the Living Village, a sustainable residential complex, Gregory E. Sterling, Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean, has announced. The Bauers and their family are contributing $15 million, the largest single charitable contribution in the history of YDS and one of the largest gifts ever made to a divinity school.

The 155-unit Living Village will be a complex of buildings constructed to meet the stringent requirements of the Living Building Challenge (LBC)—a green building certification program and sustainable design framework that visualizes the ideal for the built environment. The complex will be constructed with environmentally friendly materials and will be off the utility grid. It will collect and refine its water on-site, produce more solar electricity than it needs, and supply surplus power to the Yale Divinity Quadrangle. All waste will be processed on site.

“The Bauers’ investment will help us solidify Yale Divinity School’s place as a leader in theological education,” Sterling says. “More than a series of buildings, the village, in tandem with our existing quadrangle, will create a holistic environment where students will learn, live, and worship together and in harmony with the natural world.”

Once completed, the Living Village will be the largest living building residential complex in the world. It will also be the first building ever constructed by a divinity school or seminary that meets the “triple net zero” standards of the LBC, the first LBC building project in Connecticut, and the first in the Ivy League. Groundbreaking for the project will happen once the project’s fundraising goal is met

“Yale is committed deeply to environmental sustainability. We have a responsibility to lead the way in safeguarding our planet for future generations,” says President Peter Salovey ’86 Ph.D. “The Living Village will be a landmark in environmental design on a university campus and will set an example for schools around the world. I am delighted that George and Carol have helped us move closer to our goal. They have my gratitude for their visionary contribution.”

The 127,000-square-foot Living Village will merge with the existing Sterling Divinity Quadrangle in an integrated architectural design that unites learning and living. Students will learn how to live sustainably, serve as guides for visitors in sustainable living, and interact with colleagues across the university who share this commitment.

“We are pleased to help launch this extraordinary project,” says George Bauer, a longtime member of the YDS Dean’s Advisory Council and former board member of Andover-Newton Theological School. “We are always impressed by YDS students, and we know they are going to be the next generation of leaders for the church and world. We are very happy to help YDS create a home where these exceptional people may learn from one another and grow together while having a positive impact on our planet.”

As an added benefit, the village will address the pressing need to make YDS more affordable to students by offering below-market-rate housing options ranging from one-person “monastic cells,” akin to a studio apartment, to small two-bedroom apartments. With lower rental rates for these units, the village will reduce the overall cost of attending the school.

“Our deepest thanks go to George and Carol for supporting this incredible project,” says Sterling. “They were the first to step forward at every stage of the Living Village: the first to step forward when we needed funds for a feasibility study, the first to step forward when we needed to hire architects to create the design, and now, the first to step forward with a cornerstone gift for construction. They are visionaries who have consistently used their resources to express their values both at YDS and elsewhere.”

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