Monday, April 18, 2011

Dorm Wars Update

Butterworth residents have taken a commanding lead over Bragdon, Forest, and Woodland in the dorm electricity reduction contest. Early in the contest, Butterworth residents have reduced their electricity usage by over 10%. There is plenty of time for residents in the other dorms to kill some watts.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dorm Worms 2011

Today starts the Dorm War contest between our four dorms with smart meters. Bragdon, Butterworth, Forest, and Woodland will be competing to reduce their electricity usage. The contest starts today and will end next Thursday (April 21st) at midnight. The winner of the contest will be the dorm that reduces electricity usage by the greatest percentage over the course of the contest week. Prizes will be awarded to the winning dorm on Earth Day.

Forest, the energy hogs on campus, have a lot to prove. Enthusiasm in "the Wood" is high and students are ready to defeat their upper classmates. Bragdon residents are looking to trim their usage below their sister dorm Butterworth. Good luck shedding your watts!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Water Flows Downhill

It is a sloppy day on campus today. The rain and melting snow have created large puddles everywhere. As I was walking back to my office I observed two students approaching one of these puddles. The puddle was muddy and the sidewalk wasn't visible for any of the width. The students stopped and studied the puddle. Where do we step? I watched with interest as they made their decision. Perhaps they caught a glimpse of sidewalk that influenced their decision but they stepped into the down slope side and immediately yelled as four inches of water filled their shoes. I laughed and then passed on the uphill side which was centimeters deep.

I began to wonder if they had taken more science classes at Lasell would they would have chosen the uphill side of the puddle? We don't directly teach how to negotiate puddles in our science courses but we do try and teach students how to think scientifically. I'm not talking about applying the scientific method to study the puddle but rather applying a law of nature to their situation. Instead of science courses, maybe more philosophy courses would have helped these students. Something like, "If water flows downhill, then the puddle will be deeper on the down slope side."

The general education curriculum is up for review at Lasell. I have been thinking about what this means for our students. Students are not going to become scientists or philosophers by taking a few general education courses. But I still think there is great value in requiring students to engage in different ways of thinking. Challenging students to think in new ways just might be the tool needed to improve their decision making so, when they encounter that puddle, they can keep their feet dry.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Web 2.0 Tools

Between semesters I enjoy exploring new ideas to bring into my teaching. Clouds have lots of possibilities. This is a cloud of my blog shaped like a tree.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Food Waste Revisited

Yesterday, as part of America Recycles Day, we measured food waste again in the dining hall. This is the third time I have had students conduct this audit. The first year we did the audit, as mentioned in previous posts, food waste was about 0.33 lbs per person. The following fall we implemented trayless dining in the dining hall. Food waste was then measured at about 0.18 lbs/person. It has been about 2 years since I've run the food waste audit so I was curious what the trend has been. I found it encouraging yesterday when our results indicated a slight reduction from 2008. Food waste was measured yesterday at 0.16 lbs/person.

More exciting is the unveiling of our new composting system. Food waste will be collected in a composting bin in the back of the house. This will divert much of our food waste from the landfill and sewage system. While composting is a an important addition to our sustainability efforts, compost is still waste. The important thing for diners to remember is to try and eliminate all food waste. This will reduce the overall quantity of food purchased and help reduce our food print.

Friday, September 17, 2010

New School Year

The start of the fall semester is always the most exciting time on a college campus. We are off to a great year at Lasell. We continue to improve our environmental efforts on campus and make campus a greener place to live, work, and study. Let me highlight some of the changes and initiatives seen around campus:

-The Environmental Studies major continues to grow. In just our second year we are no longer the smallest major on campus. We are excited to have a new cohort of first-year Environmental Studies students and look forward to working with them.

-Kelly Silvia (ENV '11) spent the summer interning for the Trustees of Reservations on Martha's Vineyard. Kelly worked to help track and protect the endangered piping plover.

-The service-learning trip to Ecuador was successful last spring and will run again this year. Students have the opportunity to travel to Ecuador to work on community service projects with Professor Toffler and Amy Greene.

-A new service-learning trip will run this year working on ecotourism issues in Brazil. Professor Janbek and Professor Van Hyfte will be leading this trip. I am jealous of faculty that lead both the Ecuador and Brazil trips and I hope to get involved in a few years once my children are a bit older.

-Marc Fournier, our Assistant Director for Plant Operations & Sustainability, has taken over for me as chair of the Environmental Sustainability Committee. Marc has an increased budget for this group and is excited to get rolling.

-There are two new recycling stations outside Wolfe and Winslow. We are trying to reduce the number of waste bins on campus that do not also have a recycling bin next to them. We hope to capture more recyclable items as people move between buildings. They look great with Lasell College routed on.

-Enrollment in environmentally themed courses continues to grow. Environmental Science (ENV211), Intro to Environmental Studies (ENV101), and Diversity of Living Organisms (BIO102) are all running near capacity. We will likely run more sections of ENV211 and ENV101 in the spring to meet the growing interest.

-The study abroad opportunities for Environmental Studies majors look amazing. We are encouraging all of our students to consider studying abroad. There are opportunities all over the world. For example, students can spend a semester in Australia studying coral reefs or spend a semester in Costa Rica studying conservation biology.

-Sodexo has introduced a take-away program for lunch but designed the program with sustainability in mind. Take-away is available from the dining hall but students must purchase a reusable take-away container. Students return the container to be cleaned and are given a clean container. This provides students the opportunity to grab some food while on the run but will not add to the waste generated on campus.

-I picked up the northern-red bellied cooters yesterday. They are tiny. My FYS class will be working with the turtles to learn more about human impacts on the species and to help care for them. This year we are going to develop a hydroponic system to grow our own lettuce.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day 2010

Last year we pieced together a small Earth Day event at Lasell. This year, Amy Greene from CCBL has taken leadership and planned an entire festival. There will be a band, an eco-fashion show, vendors promoting green products, student organizations running activities, and even food. Amy has worked hard to take Earth Day at Lasell to a new level. She has recruited student volunteers to help plan the day and spent considerable time securing all the equipment needed for the day. Thanks Amy!

The festivities are happening in the East/West quad from about 11:30-2:00. Come join us! Open to the public. Tell your friends from other schools too.

Come see a sustainable fashion show, the band Hey Mama and demonstrations about the environment. Free food and sustainable products will be given out!