Campus housing going green

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November 21, 2008

1:54 AM

Residence Life and Student Affairs will look at a proposal today for the formation of an “Eco-House.”

Lauren Edmonds ’11 and other members of the Student Environmental Action Coalition proposed to Residence Life that the College create environmentally sustainable special interest housing for students interested in energy efficiency, and to promote environmental education on campus.

“It would look like a regular dorm, but we would try to change the lifestyle within the dorm,” Edmonds said. “Eventually, though, we would like to see more structural changes to the dorms as well.”

Edmonds said the house could be a part of the Bryan complex, but the location would depend on the number of students who wanted to live in the house. She said 20 students have already expressed interest in living in the Eco-House.

Assistant Vice President and Director of Residence Life Deb Boykin said an approval of a proposal does not necessarily guarantee space for the special interest housing.

If passed, the proposal will be put into effect next fall. Boykin said once a proposal is received it is reviewed by the Special Interest Housing Committee, which then makes a recommendation to the Vice President for Student Affairs, who makes the final decision about whether the house should receive space.

She declined to comment on the Eco-House until after it is submitted today.

Edmonds said more people, particularly from campus environmental organizations, should make trips to residential halls to talk to students about energy efficiency.

“A lot of it comes down to educating students, so it would be good if people came to the residence halls to inform students about environmental issues,” she said.

Edmonds has some specific changes she would like to see made to the dorms.

“We should install more heating and electricity meters in halls to let students know how much energy we’re using. We need to spread more general awareness about energy usage here,” she said.

Environmental science and policy department chairman John Swaddle said that even though hall meters would be a good idea, there may be some costs associated with installation and monitoring.

“Keeping track of how people are living is an important step in generating future advice, policies and action for the rest of campus,” he said.

The College has already taken significant steps over the past five years to promote a greener campus, Swaddle said.

“Some examples are trayless dining services — which saves a huge amount of water [and] energy and reduces food waste — the generation of biofuels at the Keck Lab and LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] certification for most of the new campus buildings,” he said.

Swaddle said the most important contributions have come from the students organizing themselves to enact various initiatives including SEAC, the Green Fee and the formation of the Committee on Sustainability.

The Eco-House could also be seen as an advertisement or educational tool for more sustainable living in general, Swaddle said.

“The environmental performance of a university is fast becoming a major factor for recruiting the brightest and best students,” he said. “Therefore, William and Mary is likely to benefit directly from launching this kind of residence.”

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