Committee on Sustainability announces fall 2010 project awards

  • Sustainability at Crim DellOne of the grants went to student Thomas Johnson who will study the effectiveness of micro-hydroelectric turbines as a source for power generation. Johnson will construct several small turbines and install them in the Crim Dell, where water will flow over them, spinning the turbines and generating electricity. The electricity can be used in various buildings on campus or stored in batteries for later use.

    Photo by Stephen Salpukas

    Sustainability at Crim Dell

The College’s Committee on Sustainability (COS) has announced the projects funded for fall 2010 from the student green fee.

In spring 2008 students overwhelmingly voted in favor of imposing a $30 green fee on themselves each year. The green fee generates over $200,000 a year to fund sustainability projects and research at William & Mary. For fall 2010, the committee received twenty-two project proposals requesting a total of $172,177.  The committee decided to fund eleven projects for a total of $72,437 at its November meeting.

“We are really pleased by the fact that the overall quality of proposals continues to improve with each round of new proposals,” said Lynda Butler, COS co-chair and professor of law. “We had a number of very strong proposals from across the university in all areas of sustainability; facilities, research, education/outreach and operations. Several have direct application in our planning for the eco-village.”

In addition to the fall 2010 projects, the revenue from this year’s green fee will be used to fund projects for spring 2011, four or five summer research grants, and a $40,000 deposit to the College’s Green Endowment. The Green Endowment, valued at $89,779 as of Aug. 31, 2010, is invested in a variety of mutual funds that support sustainable activities both nationally and internationally.

The projects funded for fall 2010 include:

1.  Law school lighting retrofit - $21,850 to Liz Jackson (associate dean of the Law School): This project replaces existing thirty-year-old lighting in one large lecture hall with more efficient lighting and motion sensors. The new efficient lighting and motion sensors will conserve energy while the lights are on and ensure that energy is not wasted while the classroom is not in use, both of which will save money in utility costs.

2.  Swem variable frequency drives - $27,000 to Dan Patterson (associate director of utilities in facilities management): This project will complete the addition of variable frequency drives to the Swem Plant cooling towers. A variable frequency drive varies the speed of the drive motors and consumes much less electricity than the standard drives to achieve the same result. Patterson estimates that the addition of the last two variable frequency drives will reduce consumption at the Swem Plant by 450,000 Kwh/year.

3.  Micro-hydroelectric turbines research project - $1,040 to Thomas Johnson (student). With this grant, Johnson will study the effectiveness of micro-hydroelectric turbines as a source for power generation. Johnson will construct several small turbines and install them in the Crim Dell, where water will flow over them, spinning the turbines and generating electricity. The electricity can be used in various buildings on campus or stored in batteries for later use.

4.  Solar-powered Center for Geospatial Analysis (CGA) - $9,500 to Clare Stankwitz and Victoria Chung (students) and Stu Hamilton (Arts & Sciences faculty): Building on the recent interest created by the eco-village project in alternative power sources on campus, this project seeks to determine the costs, benefits and feasibility of powering all CGA equipment, exclusive of HVAC systems, entirely on active solar power. For this feasibility study, a team of students and faculty members will research similar initiatives at other mid-Atlantic schools and consult with potential contractors to obtain cost estimates and drawings for the installation of the photovoltaic array.  The second phase of the project, the actual installation of the photovoltaic array, is contingent on the results of the feasibility study and on future fundraising efforts.

5.  VIMS greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory - $5000 to Carl Hershner (VIMS faculty): Graduate students and faculty at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) will use the Clean Air - Cool Planet Campus Carbon Calculator to collect data to develop a GHG inventory. The data from VIMS will also provide a missing piece in the GHG inventory done for the main campus of the College of William and Mary last year.

6.  Creating GIS data layers - $700 to Randy Chambers (Arts & Sciences faculty). This project funds the purchase of a Trimble handheld GPS unit, which will be used to create resource layers for the campus map project. Students and faculty will walk the campus to map important features like natural resources, tree species, and sustainability projects and collect data on each feature. This information will then be made available to students and faculty for research purposes, to facilities personnel, to campus tour guides and to members of the campus who have an interest in sustainability.

7.  Earth Day 2011 - $1500 to Dylan Reilly and Grace Hanson (students and members of SEAC). The Student Environmental Action Coalition will partner with COS and other student and community groups to host the 41st annual Earth Day celebration on April 23, 2011.  The event will feature booths by student and community groups, speakers, music, food, giveaways and much more.

8.  Composting on campus - $252 to Rebecca Starr (student): Though the College is entering its second year of a very successful composting program in the dining halls, there is currently no program in place to compost food waste generated in residence halls. This project seeks to remedy that situation by implementing a pilot project using the Green Cone Solar Digester System in the Eco House in Landrum Hall during the spring semester. This project has the potential to remove a large amount of organic material from the waste stream, saving both landfill space and disposal costs.

9.  Computer recycling - $300 to Jamison Shabanowitz (student): This project seeks to further expand the electronics recycling program at the College by purchasing “kill disks” to wipe the hard drives of computers so they can be resold and reused instead of just recycled into component parts.

10.  Cryovac for Dining Services - $4,295 to Ian Fuller (student and Dining Services Sustainability Intern): In March 2010, William & Mary Dining Services and the COS Food Services working group conducted a survey of students’ sustainable food purchasing priorities and found local and seasonal foods to be two of the top priorities. Dining Services pledged to increase its local food procurement by 5 percent in the 2010-2011 academic year; however, the realities of a warm-weather growing season and cold-weather academic year complicate this initiative tremendously. The purchase of a Cryovac system will allow dining services to buy much larger quantities of fresh, local product and store it for later use, thereby increasing sustainable procurement efforts and reducing the campus carbon footprint.

11.  Greening the Williamsburg Campus Child Care (WCCC) - $1000 to Janet Yang (director of WCCC), and Kathrin Levitan and Margaret Pizer (WCCC parents): This project aims to extend several green initiatives on campus, like recycling, use of biodegradable tableware and composting, to the WCCC, an on-campus daycare facility with seventy-five children. Reducing waste at the child care center will not only save energy and money, but will also help educate young children to become responsible stewards of the environment. This project will also fund the purchase of an ionator, a mechanism that turns tap water into an anti-viral and anti-bacterial cleaning solution that will allow WCCC to keep tables and other surfaces clean and germ-free without harmful chemicals, ultimately reducing the need to purchase large quantities of cleaning supplies. 

“All of these projects serve to advance the sustainability goals set out in the President’s 2008 Policy on Sustainability: They reduce our carbon footprint, increase efficiency and reduce costs, support innovative student research, and educate the W&M community about the importance of a sustainable future for the College”, said Dennis Taylor, COS co-chair and emeritus professor of marine science. “None of this would be possible without the commitment of students, faculty and staff to these goals.”