Lighting Retrofits, Solar Thermal, Meadows & EV Charging Stations: Smaller Projects that Advance Sustainability On Campus

Many people on campus have seen or heard about the community garden that was installed behind the Poker Flats housing early last spring, some of you may have noticed the new hydration stations that were installed in Hollander and Schapiro in January, and probably no one knew about the LED light retrofitting that was done in Spencer Art in the fall.  All of these projects and many more fit under the umbrella of the annual sustainability-focused capital improvement requests.

Initially these sustainability renewals were solely energy efficiency projects that reduced energy use and subsequently reduced emissions.While those projects still make up the lion’s share of each year’s slate of projects, in recent years, the list has expanded to include sustainability projects that go beyond the bounds of energy conservation.  The list of projects completed is long and includes numerous interior and exterior LED lighting retrofits; weatherization in a number of buildings include Williams, Sage, Agard, Tyler, Chandler, Lasell, and the Samuelson-Muir pool; installing a solar thermal system on Poker Flats, adding covered bike storage in Currier quad; new electric vehicle charging stations (map), the creating a meadow behind Spencer Art, an energy and water audit, the Environmental Center vestibule, adding the community garden, and more.

Project Manager Doug Schlaefer works with colleagues in Planning Design & Construction, the Zilkha Center, and Facilities Operations on these projects. Together, the group identifies projects, price them out, score them through Allovance software against sustainability goals in the strategic plan, identify the modeled emissions implications, understand the impact through the social cost of carbon, and present the projects to senior leaders.

Below, we’ve listed some of the projects that have been approved and implemented in the past year and the rationale behind the projects:

  • Interior lighting retrofits in Gladden, Carter, Hopkins House, Bryant, West College, and offices and hallways in Chandler: These are still among the most cost-effective energy efficiency upgrades available and they continue to contribute toward the college’s overall reduction goals.
  • Real-Ice Device:  RealIce product allows temperature of ice to be raised, which results in reduced energy use from the refrigeration system. 
  • Hydration stations in Williams, Sage, Thompson, & Morley: hydration stations and water taps that increase ease of use for filling water bottles increases reusable water bottle use and decreases single-use plastic water bottles.
  • Overhaul of the trash and recycling bins:  The overhaul of the trash and recycling bins was conducted to standardize waste bins across campus as much as possible and increase consistency with a color scheme that matches up with national waste color coding.  This change was coordinated with the college’s switch from dual stream recycling to single stream and therefore an infrastructure change was necessary.