Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winslow the Turtle

I would first like to thank Professor Daley for offering alumni the opportunity to participate in naming the turtles. After much deliberation I have decided our new creature in the Environmental Science class should be named Winslow. This name fits because of the connection to Lasell and the fact it is such an awesome name.

The Winslow name is connected to Lasell College because of Guy Winslow and his son Dr. Donald Winslow. Guy Winslow career at Lasell began in 1898 when he was first a science teacher and ended in 1947 when he retired as the President. Most notably, in 1908 Mr. Winslow purchased the school from Dr. Charles Bragdon in 1908, thus becoming the Principal and President of Lasell from 1908-1947. Dr. Donald Winslow has been a Trustee of Lasell since 1959 as well as the schools resident historian and Archivist and lives on Maple St., only a quick walk from campus. Lasell College will forever be indebted to the Winslow family for their dedication and service to furthering the education of students on Lasell's campus.

It is this reason I believe the unnamed turtle should be named Winslow. Students and visitors to the Environmental Science class will be reminded of the Winslow family's dedication to Lasell College. Congrats to Prof. Daley and the Environmental Science students and staff for moving Lasell towards going green.

Happy Holidays to all!

Kevin Lawson

Lasell College '08

Monday, December 8, 2008

Food Waste 2008

Compared to food waste in 2007 Lasell College students reduced food waste per person by 45% to reach an average of 0.18 lbs per person in 2008. This is great! A huge reduction in just one year. What has led to this change? Are students more cognizant of their foodprint? Are students making comments to their friends about food waste? Did last year's food waste audit leave a huge impression?

Most likely the reduction in food waste we have realized is due to the incorporation of trayless dining. Although a slight inconvenience, trayless dining is proving to have a tangible impact. Trayless dining helps reduce food waste as students can no longer pile on the food. In addition, trayless dining is leading to a reduction in energy usage as hot water is no longer needed to wash as many trays. Trayless dining also requires less soap and water to clean trays. Aramark has estimated that each tray takes 1/3 to 1/2 gallon to wash. We have not been able to completely eliminate trays at Lasell as they are still needed to carry dirty dishes on the conveyor but we have realized a significant reduction as students pile dishes on trays already on the conveyor belt.

How do we stack up compared to other colleges? Through our trayless dining program we are right up there with the best of them. Although I haven't had a chance to verify the data, eco-reps at University of Vermont report the following, with my addition of Lasell:

It is fantastic to see Lasell College ahead of some very environmentally aware campuses such as Oregon and UVM. Dropping from 0.33 lbs per person to 0.18 lbs per person is a great accomplishment. We should not get complacent and we should continue to set food waste reduction goals. But, for the moment, we should step back and celebrate the progress we have made.

Friday, December 5, 2008

How the Grinch Sustained Christmas

Now that the harvest celebration is over we move into the period of mass consumption collectively known as the holidays. College students love this period as it provides a socially acceptable mechanism to deck out their rooms with strings of 2.5 volt incandescent lights. I must say that I'm not completely innocent. I did the same thing as an undergraduate.

Take a look at Lasell College residence hall electricity use in the 2007 academic year.

December electricity consumption rivaled October in the residence halls despite the fact that the college was closed for a third of the month. Per day of open school, residence halls used about 5,900 kWh in October compared to 8,800 kWh in December. Can this be explained by holiday lighting?

Probably not. More likely this is due to the loss of daylight savings time and the return of darkness at 4:30 P.M. But still there must be some impact of holiday lighting on our carbon footprint. Let's play with some numbers.

A 50 bulb string of mini lights consumes about 25 watts. If we assume a college student turns the lights on at 6 P.M. and off at midnight the lights are run for 6 hours per day. Let's also assume the student installs the lights on December 1st and takes them down when they leave for break on December 21st. During this period of time a string of lights will consume 3 kWh. Not a huge number.

Now let's scale up a bit. If a student is going to put up lighting they probably have at least 2 strings of light so now we are at 6 kWh per room. Now let's say that 250 rooms put lighting up. Now we are at 1500 kWh of electricity which has a carbon footprint of 2700 lbs. I'm probably quite conservative in my estimate as I know some of the suites will run hundreds of bulbs.

As Lasell College strives to reduce carbon emissions should we ban holiday lighting? If I am in the right ballpark with my assumptions then holiday lighting accounts for only about 0.04% of our annual electricity consumption. This is probably a battle not worth fighting as the impact just isn't there. Students would line up and protest outside my office door if we banned holiday lights. Although I'd actually be kind of excited about seeing a spark of student activism.

A ban isn't necessary as there is a new option to reduce the environmental impact of holiday lighting that we need to promote. LED lights are now available that use only about 4 watts. If we allowed holiday lighting but convinced students to purchase LED lights rather than incandescents we would reduce our carbon footprint from 2700 lbs down to 432 lbs which is over an 80% savings. The unfortunate thing right now is the cost. College students have no money and a sting of LED lights costs much more than a string of overstocked incandescent lights. Hopefully by the next holiday season the price of LED lights will come down and all new purchases of holiday lighting will be of this energy saving variety.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Go Green RA RA RA!

Last week two residential assistants in McClelland Hall approached me and asked if I could help support an event in their dorm. They wanted to host an event in honor of America Recycles Day and asked if I could address student about recycling issues and the recycling program on campus. I was thrilled to see students taking initiative to help grow our green culture and agreed to support their efforts. On Wednesday night I will be addressing a group of students about the importance of recycling and the impact individual Lasell College students can have. Great job Rebecca and Rizwan! I hope other campus leaders follow your example and develop creative programming to continue to expand the green culture at Lasell.