Posted by The Editorial Board
With the College's recent reception of the 2012 Social Leadership Award from the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Foundation, it seems that the campus's efforts at environmental conservation are finally receiving much deserved recognition. While the award was for the College's implementation of geothermal cooling and heating, (currently installed in 16% of the total square footage of buildings on campus) it draws attention to all of the hard work that so many groups and organizations have done in executing green initiatives. The award is a great honor, and the College community should further attempts at reducing our carbon footprint.
The College made a big splash when the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall stopped using trays following the 2006 renovations, cutting down food waste by an estimated 20%. Food audits conducted last year have helped cut down on portion sizes in the dining hall, further reducing food waste, and the new composting program in Northwoods Village has reduced food waste even more. Unfortunately, despite test runs, composting in the Dining Hall has yet to be fully implemented. Hopefully this can be achieved in upcoming semesters.
Last year, the Environmental Action Club led a commendable effort towards getting water refilling stations installed on campus, like many colleges have done across the nation, in an effort to move away from reliance on plastic water bottles. EAC submitted a detailed proposal, entitled the Hydration Station Initiative, with a cost analysis, projected benefits and recommended locations for station installation. Ultimately, as part of the Summer 2012 renovation process, Starbuck Center did receive a refilling station, which is a step in the right direction. Starbuck, however, is one of the buildings least frequented by the student body. While a ban on plastic water bottles might be trickier to implement, the student body and administration should continue to be encouraging of efforts to bring about more refilling stations on campus.
Skidmore Unplugged, an initiative run by the College every year in which the dorms compete in reducing energy consumption for 21 days, is another commendable effort, but why not have it run during both semesters? Better yet, why not keep a tally on electricity usage and keep the competition going year-round?
Now that we have arrived at a point where our efforts at being environmentally conscience are starting to show through, let us take advantage of the spotlight and show just how driven of a campus we are when it comes to being green.