Fall 2009 campus sustainability projects announced

 The College's Committee on Sustainability (COS) has announced its fall 2009 round of project funding via the student green fee. Out of 26 proposals totaling almost $250,000 in requests, 12 were awarded funding at the committee's November meeting for a total of $78,759.

 “This round of proposals contains several projects that address energy and carbon footprint reductions, as well as storm water management, habitat and recycling,” said Dennis Taylor, professor of marine science and the co-chair of COS. “These issues are all among our top priorities for the College.”

 Taylor also commented on the quality of the proposals received this year, noting “on the whole, all of the proposals were better focused and reflect the community's interest and increased understanding of what matters for a sustainable future here at W&M.”

In the spring of 2008, students overwhelmingly voted in favor of an annual $30 fee to support sustainability projects and research at the College. The administration endorsed the effort and the fee was approved by the William & Mary Board of Visitors in May 2008. The fee totals more than $200,000 per year, and funds two rounds of projects, four student summer research grants, and investments in the Green Endowment each year.

The projects awarded for fall 2009 include:

1. Compost Bins for Commons Dining Hall - $2,770 to Ian Fuller '11 (Dining Services Sustainability Intern):

In Fall 2009, Aramark began supporting three Dining Services Student Interns whose efforts are directed at improving recycling and reducing the solid waste stream of campus dining facilities. The interns’ proposal addresses compostable materials, which make up a significant proportion of the dining hall waste.  The proposed composting program would greatly reduce the carbon footprint and improve waste management practices overall. The objective is to better manage organic waste/food residuals and redirect them from the landfill to Virginia DEQ permitted compost operations in order to complete the recycle process. Following an initial 30-day trial period, the program, if successful, would be extended permanently to include the Commons and Sadler Center dining halls.

2. College-wide DOT (Do One Thing) Campaign - $3,050 to Erin Ryan (law faculty):

Together with Saatchi & Saatchi, the Mason School of Business recently launched the DOT Campaign, engaging students, faculty, staff, and alumni to "Do One Thing" for sustainability.  The campaign invites community members to make small personal commitments toward more sustainable choices.  At Mason, participants have pledged their individual "DOTs" on a Facebook website, which enables others to view, learn from, and comment on previously posted DOTs.  The Mason School's DOT campaign has had an auspicious beginning, attracting some 1,000 participants over the course of only a few months.

With the support of the Mason School and the assistance of the Net Impact student organization that has led the Mason School's campaign, volunteers with the COS Academic Programs working group propose to expand the DOT campaign to the rest of the university.  Modeling their efforts on the successful Mason School campaign, they plan to conduct similar campaigns at the Law School, the School of Education, The Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, and the Faculty of Arts & Sciences.

3. Swem Library variable frequency drives - $36,000 to Facilities Management (staff, Facilities Management):

 The five cooling towers for the Swem Chilled Water Plant currently use two-stage fan motors to aid in the removal of heat from the condenser water system.  We are partially funding this project to replace three of the five units fan systems with variable frequency drives that vary speed according to demand and reduce energy consumption.  This will reduce energy consumption by approximately 408,000 kwh/y.  The estimated payback in energy costs saved is 1.4 years with continuing savings of approximately $25,800/y.

4. Campus Rain Garden - $1,750 to Dylan Reilly '12, Laura Andrew '12 and Randy Chambers (biology faculty/Keck Lab):

This proposal is for the construction of an on-campus rain garden consisting solely of Virginia native plants and designed to filter and reduce the rate of soil erosion due to stormwater flows, and to reduce the volume of stormwater runoff entering Lake Matoaka.

The rain garden will also serve as a home to birds and butterflies and will meet the National Wildlife Foundation’s certification standards for a wildlife garden by providing food, water sources, cover and places to raise young. The garden will contain a birdbath, birdhouse, and a community seating area.

The campus rain garden will be planted entirely by the hands of student, staff and faculty volunteers in Spring 2010. Students from SEAC and volunteer with the STAC stormwater working group have already pledged to help with digging and planting. No fossil fuel powered earthmovers will be used in construction to maintain a small carbon footprint.

5. Event Recycling Kits - $5000 to Pat Van Zandt, Kim Lyddane, Steve Cole, and Mike Pritchett (staff, Swem, Conference Services, and Athletics):

 This proposal will develop waste recycling kits for use at athletic and campus events.  Each kit will contain all the components needed to accomplish a successful event recycling program and will be available free of charge to event organizers.  Waste management is a critical component in event greening.  Each year students, faculty and staff host countless events on campus that create sizeable amounts of waste.  These kits will provide the campus community with the know-how, materials and confidence to execute a successful recycling program during special events.

6. Law School Paper Towel Dispensers - $2,289 to Liz Jackson (staff, Law):

This project will install enMotion towel dispensers and sensor-dispensing soap at all lavatories within the Law School.  In addition, the project will install compact coreless toilet tissue to all restroom stalls.  The project will promote the reduction of landfill waste both in packaging the paper and the rate of use of both paper and soap products.

7.  Facilities Management Thermal Imager Unit - $8,200 to Dan Patterson (staff, Facilities Management):

Purchase of this Thermal Imaging Unit will provide important new technical capabilities for identifying heat/energy losses in campus buildings and help identify priorities for renovation and refit aimed at reductions in the campus carbon footprint.  The equipment will be available for use by all units of the College.

8. Hybrid Renewable Energy Stations at VIMS - $1,500 to Todd Nelson (staff, students, VIMS):

This project will support continued work at VIMS on hybrid (combined wind and solar) renewable energy generation and collaboration with a previously funded solar research project in the W&M Physics Department to create one hybrid energy installation at Gloucester Point with the goal of creating a reliable and efficient hybrid energy package.

9. Campus Kitchens Herb Garden - $2,500 to Andy Runyan (staff, Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship):

 It has been conservatively estimated that the College uses about 40-50 lbs. of herbs annually. If the William and Mary campus were to entirely replace its purchase of herbs with locally grown varieties, the estimated savings would be approximately $3,500 annually and Dining Services would have access to a reliable supply of organic and locally grown herbs.  This project will begin the process of establishing a campus herb garden that will eventually meet this need within a reasonable time horizon.  It will also develop knowledge and expertise within the campus community.

10. Electric Maintenance Truck - $10,000 to David Dutt (staff, Facilities Management):

 This award provides cost-sharing support for the purchase of an electric maintenance truck. Currently the Facilities Management Department has about 40 vehicles, mainly cargo vans and pickup trucks, configured to meet the need of the trade to which the vehicle is assigned.  Because of weight and performance requirements, the preference has been to purchase gas-fueled vehicles.  This cost-sharing arrangement will allow for the purchase of a more expensive alternative electric powered vehicle that can be evaluated for performance and durability with a view to converting the maintenance fleet to all electric vehicles.

11. “NO to Bottled Water” Campaign – up to $2,400 to Mark Fowler (faculty, Environmental Science and Policy Program):

 This project will launch a campaign to raise awareness of the environmental impacts of bottled water consumption across the campus.  The program is designed to educate the campus community on this important issue, and to promote the long-term goal of reducing and eliminating bottled water consumption on campus. Achieving this goal will help to reduce the carbon impact as well as the waste generated on campus.

12. Replacement of Exit Signage with LED units at VIMS - $3,300 to Richard White (staff, VIMS Facilities Management):

 This award will support the replacement of current exit signage using incandescent lights with more energy efficient LED units that will generate energy savings, reduce the carbon footprint and provide extended life expectancy.

In addition to the projects funded, $20,000 of the student fee was invested in the Green Endowment, which now has a total market value of $71,217. According to Sam Jones, the College's Vice President of Finance, the Green Endowment has seen a notable 27.43% return since its initial investment in January.

The projects funded this semester reflect a growing enthusiasm for sustainability that is permeating the university. Lynda Butler, professor of law and the other co-chair of COS, explained: “The proposals represented a wider range of College units and tackled more aspects of sustainability than ever before. We are very pleased with the results.”