Constructing sustainability: The Lombardo Welcome Center

The Lombardo Welcome Center will be Millersville's first net-zero energy building on campus. Photo courtesy of Millersville University.

Michael Brockett
Distribution Manager

Since Dr. John Anderson’s inauguration as Millersville University’s 14th president, his drive to create a more sustainable campus has created many changes around the community. From establishing bike stations around campus, increasing our recycling efforts, and bringing a management team on board to further the campus’ relationship with energy conservation and environmental ‘green’ status, our president has led the campus in a direction of true sustainability.

Before his retirement next semester, Dr. Anderson, along with the entire campus, will get to see the completion of the largest project towards sustainability, the Lombardo Welcome Center. This building will be the university’s first net-zero energy building, meaning through use of solar and ground energy, the building will have a minimal impact on the environment. In addition to housing Millersville University Admissions, this building will also be an education center, informing the community on how to conserve and recycle energy to create a more sustainable area.

Samuel and Dena Lombardo are responsible for making Dr. Anderson’s dream of reaching carbon neutrality by 2040 and breaking ground on the Lombardo Welcome Center a reality. The Lombardos were approached by Dr. Anderson and Dr. Aminta Breaux, former Vice-President of University Advancement, to discuss the idea of establishing the campus’ first net-zero energy building. From the first conversation, the Lombardos were on board with helping to construct this welcome center.

The Lombardos originally donated $1 million, the largest single-person donation in the university’s history, to fund the project. After the Lombardos did a preliminary walk through, they increased their donation by $200,000 to allow for additional work. The extra funding allowed the Lombardos to incorporate their Feng Shui lifestyle into the building’s design. With the assistance of their own personal consultant, the structure, internal placement and setup reflected this style of tranquility and balance. Without the generous donation and assistance from the Lombardos, the construction of the Lombardo Welcome Center would not have been possible.

The Lombardos have long-time connections with the Millersville. From being life-long residents of Lancaster, many of their family and friends attended the school. Their first personal connection with the university came from a friendship with Gerry Eckert, a form administrator at Millersville, through the Lancaster Symphony Board. Through this friendship, they became involved with several renovations and expansions on campus, the first being McComsey Hall, followed by a donation toward the renovation of Lyte Auditorium, what is now known as Winter Visual and Performing Arts Center.

Those traveling the campus can see progress as the Lombardo Welcome Center continues towards completion. While the date for its opening has not been set, the university expects the center to be open to the public before the end of the upcoming semester. Support from donors, like the Lombardos, helps improve Millersville’s campus and makes energy conservation possible. Their contributions of over $2 million have been crucial to developing Millersville University into the campus it is today: one that continues to be at the forefront of development and sustainability in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.