Smith Efforts to Get Greener Are Adding Up
Kerry Valentine '10J knows about energy-saving technology when it comes to walk-in coolers. In fact, she had recently researched an energy-saving feature that was installed in the coolers of the local restaurant she manages and realized it could also be used at Smith College.
It was all part of a challenge in her environmental science and policy seminar, taught by David Smith, associate professor of biological sciences. The course encouraged students to pursue real-world projects.
At Valentine's restaurant, an energy solutions company equipped two walk-in coolers with a system to reduce the amount of time the compressor runs, thereby maximizing the energy efficiency and minimizing operation costs.
Valentine, who is an Ada Comstock Scholar, offered the information to Todd Holland, Smith's energy manager. Before long that energy-saving technology was being installed in 20 coolers at Smith, including those located in all residence dining rooms and the Campus Center Café. After an upfront cost of $50,000, the technology will save Smith about $17,000 a year in electricity.
This is only one of many projects under way as Smith strives to promote a variety of sustainable actions by students, faculty and the administration that reflect an awareness of the earth's ecosystems, natural resource consumption and community health. Other recent campus initiatives for environmental sustainability follow.
This year, Opening Convocation had no printed program; the program was projected on the walls of John M. Greene Hall. Music and lyrics for "Gaudeamus Igitur" were printed on card stock. As they left the hall, students returned the cards so they may be used again at future events.
It was a subtle change, but this past summer more than 3,500 fluorescent lamps in campus buildings were replaced with lower-wattage models. In addition, some rooms were equipped with sensors that monitor movement and sound to determine if the lights are needed, triggering an automatic shut-off mechanism after a designated period of no activity.
The fluorescent lamp switchover is part of the college's ongoing effort to reduce campus energy consumption and emission of greenhouse gases and to save money. Between 2004 and 2008, the Smith campus reduced electrical consumption by 11.4 percent. Several projects to continue that trend are being implemented this fall.
To cut down on unnecessary waste, Smith is urging students to bring their own reusable plastic food containers to the dining room for those late-night snacks. College dishes and flatware must stay in the dining room.
Dano Weisbord, Smith environmental sustainability director, says that asking students to bring these supplies to campus "demonstrates that environmental sustainability is important here at Smith and that we need [students'] help in accomplishing our goals. Environmental sustainability is a collective effort."