by The Editorial Board Skidmore College is making some great steps towards improving its sustainability. The school is on its way to achieving geothermal heating and cooling for 50% of buildings on campus. Palamountain Lot hosts an electric car-charging station. As of this past October, 12% of Skidmore’s energy is solar powered. The school is phasing in water-refill stations all throughout campus, and LED lights are being installed as well.
The future is looking very optimistic for Skidmore’s campus. However, the Editorial Board would like to see Skidmore tackle some more fundamental, albeit less exciting sustainability issues.
For example, Skidmore College has no LEED-certified buildings on its campus, which is highly uncommon for a school with the amount of funding that Skidmore has, paired with its focus on sustainability and environmental concerns. LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification granted by the Green Building Certification Institute. The different levels of certification rate how efficiently and sustainably a building is designed, constructed, maintained and operated. A LEED certified-building would certainly boost Skidmore’s appeal for prospective students interested in attending a sustainable campus. It would also be a drastic improvement for the overall quality of Skidmore’s buildings.
Skidmore’s most recent building ventures, the new student apartments, have been somewhat unimpressive in regards to sustainability. The Northwoods Apartments were completed in 2006, with one further addition in 2011, and Hillside Apartments were completed in 2012. These projects are so recent, yet the quality of the buildings leaves much to be desired. Walls in the apartments (not to mention in dorms as well) are poorly insulated and the windows so porous that residents can often feel drafts from the outdoors. This also means that heated air is leaking out, which is a waste of energy. The windows are relatively small and feasible fixes that could ultimately save both energy and money, not to mention make the apartments more comfortable to live in.
The Board would like to see Skidmore elect to spend its money on basic, necessary improvements, like stronger windows, rather than spend millions of dollars on flashier improvements. Geothermal engineering and solar panels are both highly beneficial, but the less flashy improvements are equally meaningful.
The Board also has a suggestion for improving the Skidmore Unplugged energy-conservation venture. As of now, Skidmore Unplugged is a project solely for students living in dorm buildings, measuring the amount of energy spent in each residential hall over a course of 21 days. Whichever dorm decreases its energy the most receives a water-refilling station in their building. We believe this project should be a more campus-wide endeavor. It would be useful to let students living in on-campus apartments also gain an understanding of how much energy they are expending. Either at the end of each month or at least at the same time as Skidmore Unplugged, residents should receive fake energy bills, letting them understand how much energy their building has been consuming. This way, residents can at least have some idea of how much energy they are either wasting or saving, and Skidmore Unplugged will not be excluding a large percentage of the student body.
Overall, Skidmore College definitely has sustainability in mind in its future-planning. We only suggest that the College look at some more immediate concerns, ones with the potential for simple but highly beneficial changes.