Emissions reduction through energy conservation at Williams

The Zilkha Center and the Office of Planning Design & Construction (PD&C) collaborate to pursue sustainability projects campus-wide. As part of the sustainability commitments set in 2015 by President Adam Falk, the College continues to commit resources to on-campus emission reduction projects by increasing the efficiency of our campus buildings and reducing their electrical and/or heating needs.

Improved LED lightbulbs.

PD&C recently installed new energy-efficient LED lighting at the Towne Field House, The Chapman Rink, Lasell Gymnasium, Simon Squash Center and Morley Science Center. PD&C continues to assess and implement other LED lighting upgrades across campus as part of the College’s long-term strategy to pursue efficiency optimization in the pursuit of carbon neutrality. So far, switching to LED in these and other buildings has saved roughly 700,000-kilowatt-hours each year and roughly 375 metric tons of CO2e each year. This is equivalent to taking around 90 cars off the road or planting close to 12,000 trees. LED lighting not only reduces our energy footprint, but also enhances the user’s experience and saves on maintenance costs. For example, through the LED upgrades in the athletic facilities, lights were replaced with a higher Color Rendering Index (CRI) lamp which no longer requires a ballast to “drive” them. The new LED driver that replaces the ballast is miniaturized and built into the lamp itself. This factor and the longer life of LEDs, which can have a life expectancy of 50,000 hours, reduce maintenance costs by reducing the number of parts to replace and increasing the time between lamp replacements. The feedback from students, staff and other patrons of the various facilities since the lighting was upgraded has been positive: The new lighting seems to provide a better overall experience compared to the lighting technology that existed before.

Solar-thermal panels at the Chandler Athletic Center.

Two other projects on campus involve the installation of solar hot water panels, one at Poker Flats and one currently in progress at the Chandler Athletic Center which is expected to be completed in spring 2020. Solar hot water panels were added at Poker Flats to supplement the steam energy used to provide hot water for kitchens and bathrooms. The energy contribution from these solar panels is tracked with a data logger that is also tied into the Campus’ Building Management System (BMS).  By adding these panels, Poker Flats has reduced its reliance on fossil fuels for heating hot water by 66%. The solar panels added to the southern roof section of the Chandler Athletic Center will help contribute to the heating of the roughly 800,000 gallon Olympic size Samuelson pool. These panels also contribute to the domestic hot water needs associated with the laundry room, bathrooms and locker facilities. This will reduce hot water and pool heating reliance on fossil fuel sources by 25% and will be monitored by a datalogger system.  This system will also monitor energy use and be tied into the campus BMS. 

Energy miser on vending machines.

Other sustainability efforts on campus include the installation of new hydration stations in Sawyer Library and an upcoming project to implement “energy miser” products for vending machines. The new hydration stations were installed at the end of Fall 2019 to reduce the usage of single-use water bottles, which in turn reduces energy and resources required for the manufacture and transport of single-use water bottles.  Each station has its own tracking system for how many water bottles it has replaced – go check out the up to the minute impacts! In the case of the vending machines, the addition of an energy miser acts just like an occupancy sensor, allowing the machines to go into a lower energy use standby mode, but then go to full power when someone approaches to use them. Over time this will reduce energy needs for these vending machines around campus.


Information gathered and compiled by PD&C intern Ted Anderson ‘22