An eco-nomic solution

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November 12, 2010

1:24 AM

It’s been a while since we last heard from the College of William and Mary’s Committee on Sustainability about its eco-village project, the plan to include environmentally friendly measures the planned renovations of the lodges. The eco-village is one of the more substantive projects to emerge from the College’s Do One Thing campaign, and we’re glad to see it move from its rather generalized initial concept into a somewhat more detailed and inclusive proposal.

These renovations are perhaps particularly notable because sustainability renovations is an area in which the College could have easily gotten by, without much scrutiny or notice, doing the bare minimum. The majority of campus renovations happen routinely and with little consideration paid, at least by the larger campus community, to their methods. The fact that this opportunity was discovered and seized by the committee itself is already a testament to its initiative.

Even the tag of “eco-friendly housing” could have been attached to the project without much additional thought or effort. At first, when the committee initially touted the use of reclaimed wood and recycled glass, we thought this could well be the case.

Therefore, it’s great to see that, far from a minimal gesture toward sustainability the initiative easily could have become, the leaders of the eco-village project plan to make the most of the opportunity given them.

They’ve selected areas of specialization for each lodge, including the Daily Grind, all while potentially saving the College up to $10,000 in the process. The range of themes for each lodge surprises us, incorporating different aspects of sustainability from zero-waste and recycled materials, to energy efficiency, to biodiversity and ore. We eagerly await the finished product.

The ambition of the project is even more apparent in comparison to the plans that were initially announced in April of this year. What started as little more than a half-baked idea — the possibility of student research — has since become a well-incorporated and essential facet of the project. Instead of remaining a one-off improvement of a fairly select group of student residences, the eco-village project has the potential to become a site of continued study for future generations of scientists and environmentalists at the College.

The only question remaining is from where, and how quickly, the funds will come together. All the committee’s current plans are tentative, hinging on the result of ongoing discussions with private donors.

The decision to solicit the funding of the eco-village renovations largely from sources outside the College was a wise choice, seeing as renovations could easily proceed on a lodge-to-lodge basis. However, we think it would be a great show of support if the Student Assembly would help by contributing whatever it can to the initial phases of the project. Some investment on the part of the student body could get the project rolling and inspire other companies and major alumni donors to pitch in as well, in addition to serving as an important gesture toward the committee’s well-thought out effort.

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