COS to fund plans pushing energy efficiency

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April 17, 2009

4:40 AM

The Committee on Sustainability’s steering committee approved funding for 14 new projects that they believe will help the College of William and Mary improve energy efficiency and environmental awareness.
The projects, which include replacing the towel dispenser at Earl Gregg Swem Library and installing motion sensor controlled lights in high-traffic areas at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, will each be funded for one year and will begin at various times, depending on the task.

The projects will be funded by the Green Fee, which was established last year in a referendum by the student body and later approved by the Board of Visitors.

Each student pays $15 per semester, or $30 per year, for sustainability projects such as these.

Co-chair of COS and professor of marine science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science Dennis Taylor said the current economic crisis does not affect the Green Fee.

“There was overwhelming support for the Green Fees shown by the student vote in spring 2008,” Taylor said. “Reaction to the projects supported last fall was favorable across all segments of the William and Mary community.”

Science and Technical Advisory Committee and biology professor John Swaddle said the steering committee ranked the projects to decide which to approve.

“As chair of STAC, I sit on this steering committee, as does the student Co-chair of STAC, Lauren Edmonds ’11. So we both played an equal part in ranking the projects and deciding which ones to fund,” Swaddle said.

The voting members of the steering committee include Taylor, Swaddle, Edmonds, Interim Dean of the Marshall-Wythe School of Law and Co-chair of COS Lynda Butler, geology professor Rowan Lockwood, Phil Zapfel ’09, business student Jessica Parent, acting associate vice president and facilities management David Shepard and College building official Robert Dillman. Vice President of Finance Sam Jones, Vice President for Administration Anna Martin and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler ’88 Ph.D. ’06 also sit on the committee.

Edmonds said there is a large student amount of support for environmental reforms.

“Out of the 14 projects funded, nine are student based proposals,” Edmonds said. “I think this heavy level of involvement is the best example of student support. The efficiency upgrades are also projects specifically mentioned in the Green Fees proposal as students’ plans for how to spend the money, so I think even our facilities-based projects have strong student support.”

Taylor said the College is unique in approving the 14 sustainability projects.

“Colleges and universities across the country are all pursuing sustainability efforts in a variety of ways. At William and Mary, we have tried to capture the talents, expertise and passions of the community as a way to achieve progress and sustain a commitment to this,” Taylor said. “There are currently more than 120 faculty, students and staff from all units of the College volunteering their time and energies to this. It is an exceptional effort that has captured the interests of other institutions seeking to learn how this was accomplished.”

Swaddle said he believes the College is moving in a positive direction regarding sustainability.

“What the COS has achieved in just six months is staggering.” Swaddle said. “I’ve never seen such a level of productivity from a College committee. There is plenty more for us to do, but all the signs of positive change look good.”

Zapfel said the changes are particularly evident when compared to last year.

“This year has been fantastic,” Zapfel said. “We’ve made amazing strides from last year. I think we will see a significant improvement in our next report card.”

Nevertheless, Swaddle said there is always more to do to make the College more sustainable.

“What we need to do next is establish sustainability as a clear priority strategically for the College, and for the College to put some of its own money into this endeavor,” Swaddle said. “For example, hiring recent alums to continue their excellent work for their alma mater. This would be a very low-cost way of ensuring we continue to make substantial sustainability gains and continue to save the College money overall.”

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