Monday, June 24, 2013

Sustainable Transportation

Transportation: it’s the human activity with one of the highest carbon footprints associated with it.  It is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants that contribute to health problems (such as heart and respiratory disease and cancer) as well as environmental degradation.

 What are some things that SMC is doing to provide smarter commuting options?

1) Free access to public transportation: The college is a proud member of CCTA’s Unlimited Access Program http://www.cctaride.org/programs/unlimited-access.html - Benefit to all faculty, staff and students.

2) Campus Shuttle: don’t use your car to get from North to Main Campus, or even around Main 
Campus (yes I’m talking to the people that drive from one end of campus to go to the gym!); jump on the shuttle!

3) Campus connector road and bike lane bridging North and Main Campus.

4) Solar Powered Electric Vehicle Charge Station – and it does get used by on and off campus folks

5) Hybrid Vehicles in our FleetDid you know that we have several Honda Civic Hybrids in the fleet that are used by faculty and staff for work-related travel?

6) Bike Racks – we have over 20 bike racks scattered about campus to keep your bicycles safe (provided you properly lock them).  Check out a map of where to find them on main campus: https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=201998215040682350849.0004dafc0be48c200f8b6&msa=0

 
How are we doing though? 
We were last in the Way to Go Commuter Challenge when compared to UVM and Champlain College (we only had 22 employees participate versus 102 at Champlain and 238 at UVM) and CCTA ridership is down from last year.

The folks in the Office of Sustainability are worried about our community’s commuting habits and want to understand more about the choices we make.  We’d love it if you could fill out a very short survey we put together (right now it's for Faculty and Staff: if you go on the portal page, put your mouse over Campus Services, go to the facility services page, scroll all the way down, you'll find a link under Sustainability Announcements)

Please know that this survey is just intended to get a baseline of our commuting habits and start getting a sense of what the community would like to see, or not see, to make some of our commuting choices a bit more sustainable.  We definitely know that for many folks sustainable commuting just isn't an option (juggling family life, other outside of work appointments, etc), but we want to know that, rather than assume and be cynical that you don't commute sustainably because you don't care.  For those that do have some wiggle room, we'd like to know how the college can help!
If you fill it out, we’ll show you our appreciation and enter you into a raffle to win a snazzy purple Brita Water Bottle with filters!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Students Compete in 3rd Annual Electricity Competition

At the end of each Spring semester, for the past 3 years, the Office of Sustainability has organized an electricity competition for students living in all the Townhouses, Hodson and Ethan Allen Apartments.  This competition runs for weeks (this year it went from April 8th to April 29th ).  Just under 500 students were challenged to see which units in each area would have the lowest total per capita kWh over the 3 week period.  The winners receive a delicious local meal from Sugar Snap (thanks to the Student Association).

Each student received an excel spreadsheet that had their baseline usage, weekly usage update and what they could expect their monthly electricity bill to be based on the previous weeks usage.   Students were also able to check-out a Watts up Pro meter to learn about the electricity consumption of their appliances.
Together, the students saved 37,497 kWh of electricity in just 3 weeks solely based on changing their behaviors.  Imagine what the savings could be if we all paid a little bit more attention to our electricity consumption habits year-round?
 
If you are interested in checking out a Watts Up Meter to inventory your appliances, the Office of Sustainability has several to lend out for a short period of time.  All you have to do is find the office (and arrange a pick-up time).
 
 
Congrats to this year’s winners:

TH 100s:
Christopher DeMairo
Andrew Landers
Edward Van Sicle
Timothy McDonald

TH 200s:
Kristen Fleming
Mallory Hyland
Brittany Cantore
Lauren Mercik

TH 300s (2 winners)
Melissa Morrison
Elyse Gentile
Andrea Nelson
Emma Hauser

 Caroline Ward
Hanna German
Jennifer Lockfort
Anna Scotto

TH 400s
Thomas Dickerson
Michael Holland
Jared Peick
Patrick Bousquet
Eric Parziale

 Hodson
Courtney Dunne
Chelsey Covitz
Meghan Howard
Shavon Kenney

Ethan Allen
Chantel Albert
Maeve Carroll

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cycling on Campus and Beyond

Dare I say that Spring is finally here?  The calendar says so, the sound of the birds say so, the buds on the trees and flowers starting to bloom also say so and all you cyclists out there are definitely saying it’s time for Spring!

As more and more of you are dusting off your bikes and using them to get around campus and the surrounding area, I wanted to take this time to let you know about a few bike resources/safety tips for campus:

1) We have many bike racks around campus.  In fact, Green Up and the Office of Sustainability purchased 4 brand new bike racks as a present to the campus for Earth Day (we put them together ourselves too!).  Check-out this map of all the current locations of bike racks on campus:
https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=201998215040682350849.0004dafc0be48c200f8b6&msa=0

2) Lock your bikes when you leave them alone.   Use the “D” locks when you lock your bikes up, they are much more secure.  Also, lock your bikes to the racks not the trees (it hurts the trees on campus!)

3) Register your bike with Public Safety and obtain a bicycle registration sticker to help identify owners of found, recovered or impounded bicycles.  Fill out the online form here: http://www.smcvt.edu/On-Campus/Wellness-and-Safety/Public-Safety/Helpful-Forms/Bicycle-Registration.aspx

4) Follow the rules of the road for safe and responsible cycling: http://www.localmotion.org/resources/rules

5) Find a trail and get out there (after your school work is done of course)!  http://trailfinder.info/

 

 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Garden Season 2013, Yes! We’ve Already Started!


Did you know that the Organic Garden Team has already been hard at work for this year’s growing season?  We have!   In fact, we actually started planning out this summer’s garden back in December (and we just might have ordered all our seeds back then too…. we were a bit eager you could say).
This is what our calendar has looked like since the summer:

October: planted  cover crop of Winter Rye
November: is it summer yet?
December: not summer yet…let’s map out the garden for 2013 and order our seeds!
January: Went through our garden journal and updated data (germination dates,  harvest dates, weather data, arrival of pests, etc)
February:  That white stuff has lost its charm….is it SUMMER YET?!  No? Fine, we’ll start researching Farmscaping methods for Biological Control (i.e. planting specific plants to attract beneficial bugs to take care of the bad ones!)


With March just about done, we’ve been getting increasingly busy with gardening tasks.  Our Onions have been growing in the Cheray Greenhouse (thank you Biology Department for giving us some space!) and the garlic has just started coming up through the soil line.  This week we took our annual soil samples to send to UVM to get analyzed (always good to keep tabs on your soil health!).  Next up: starting our Peppers, Eggplants, Tomatoes, Broccoli, Watermelon and Cantaloupe in the greenhouse.

Before we know it, it’s farm stand time!

Happy Growing!






 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Forward on Climate Rally

This past weekend was a long weekend for most.  Many might have taken the extra day to enjoy the snow in the mountains or gathered with some friends and family.  This wasn’t the case for a group of amazing students that spent their President’s Day weekend to travel to Washington D.C. to participate in the Forward on Climate rally.
rganized by many environmental organizations (350.org, the Sierra Club, the Hip-Hop Caucus), the Forward on Climate rally was put together in order to send a message to President Obama and our politicians that it’s time to lead in the fight against climate change, beginning with stopping the Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline.  Organizers promised it would be a historical day, indeed it was.

Over 50,000 people gathered at the national mall to participate in the rally.  It was the largest climate change rally in US history.  Senior Matt Connolly (majoring in International Relations) reflects on the experience: “For me, it was an awesome opportunity to experience democracy as it was meant to be: citizens voicing their opinions in a peaceful manner, seeking the ears of their government and boldly proclaiming, “No, we do not agree.” I stood there, with my peers, and together, we spoke with one voice.”  (to read about Matt’s experience at the rally: http://thiskidhisworld.com/2013/02/dc-forward-on-climate/ )

Working in Higher Education, I firmly believe that it is our responsibility to inspire, empower and provide hope for our students.  We are here for you and because of you.  This weekend, I felt the role was reversed.  The group of students that spent their weekend to stand up for all of our futures, for people (and all forms of life) they haven’t met across the nation and globe, has given me inspiration beyond hope.  I am humbled by their courage and conviction to make a difference in the journey we have before us to fight Climate Change.

To the students that went:  Nora Stoelting, Trevor Madore, Ibby Hearn, Kirsten Wilson, Cece Hobart, Brianna Healy, McKenna Earl, Whitney Burgess, Mike Brown, Lisa Ritter, Christine Peloquin, Brian Crowley, Nick Rucci, Matt Connolly, Hannah Thumser, Harper Fendler  thank you for standing up and don’t ever sit down.
 
Enjoy photos from the event courtesy of Christine Peloquin and Nora Stoelting.  Photo at start of blog is courtesy 350.org: http://www.flickr.com/photos/350org/sets/72157632781032097/ 
 
 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Saint Michael's Carbon Footprint

As people of faith, we are convinced that "the earth is the Lord's and all it holds" (Ps 24:1).  Our Creator has given us the gift of creation: the air we breathe, the water that sustains life, the fruits of the land that nourish us, and the entire web of life without which human life cannot flourish.  All of this God created and found "very good."  We believe our response to global climate change should be a sign of our respect for God's creation.
~Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and  the Common Good,
from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

At Saint Michael's, we take the threat of climate change very seriously.  Due to human activities, most notably the burning of fossil fuels, the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased significantly over the past 250 years (and is at a higher level than any reached in over 650,000 years).  Therefore, part of our efforts involves keeping track of how the campus contributes to climate change, with a focus on our carbon emissions.

The Office of Sustainability has conducted a greenhouse gas inventory (http://www.cleanair-coolplanet.org/toolkit/inv-calculator.php) of our emissions from 2003-2011 (and will be updating each year as data becomes available).  The good news, we've reduced our CO2 emissions by 13.4%!



This is significant especially when you consider we've added 5 new buildings to campus over this period, increasing square footage by 136,049 feet!  To learn more about the college's carbon footprint and how we have managed to maintain an overall downward trend:  http://www.smcvt.edu/On-Campus/Green-Campus/Sustainability-Initiatives/Energy/carbon-footprint.aspx

If you want to learn more about Climate Change, don't forget to attend the Bill McKibben lecture next Wednesday night January 30th at 7:00 pm in McCarthy.  This is for the believers and especially the non-believers.


 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Annual Winter Break Energy Conservation Initiative

It is that time of year again, time for Saint Mike's annual Winter Break Energy Conservation Initiative.  YAY! Time to save on unnecessary heating fuel and heating costs (and reduce our CO2 output as well). 

Each year, when the students leave for break and faculty/staff are away from their offices from Christmas to New Year's, the wonderful team in our HVAC department turns the thermostats down in each building and residential area.  Here's what to expect this year:
  • all unoccupied dorms/townhouses will be set at 60 degrees on Friday, December 14th (in the afternoon)
  • Administrative/Academic buildings will be lowered to 60 degrees on the afternoon of December 21st and will be raised back to normal temperatures of 70 degrees on January 2nd
  • Campus residence halls/townhouses will be reset to 70 degrees on January 12th
Tips on how to save on energy costs at your home:
  • turn your thermostat down!  For every degree you lower your thermostat around the clock, you can save 2-3% in energy costs.  If you lower your heat from 72 to 65 for 8 hours a day, you could save as much as 10% on annual heating costs!
  • seal up any drafty doors/windows (for doors you can geet weather-stripping and door sweeps; for windows you could caulk any gaps and cracks around the frames or get one of the kits available in hardware stores)
  • make sure to keep radiators, baseboard heaters and durance duct openings clean and free from objects blocking the heat
  • If you want to go the extra mile, consider getting a home energy audit (you could save up to 30% on your energy bills by working with a Home Performance Energy Star contractor: