Students talk sustainability plans

By Erica Quinones

Elm Staff Writer

Eight interns presented their growing plans to make Washington College greener at the first Sustainability Showcase.

The showcase was held on Tuesday, Nov. 27, and hosted by Director of Sustainability Greg Farley.

Farley said the showcase was an opportunity to demonstrate how “we, as an institution, respond” to climate change.

“For institutions to survive and thrive in what will be a climate-changed future, we really need to be thinking about what our future actions will be,” Farley said.

Senior Karl Melchior presented some of the  Office of Sustainability’s  long-term goals. These include a 20 percent reduction in energy intensity by 2025, an energy independent campus by 2035, and an energy and carbon neutral campus by 2035.

Using tools from Mitchell Tomashow’s book, “The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus,” the speakers designated nine categories on which the office will focus. These include energy and carbon, food, water, solid waste, infrastructure, academics, procurement and planning, campus appearance, and investment. The Office of Sustainability are scheduled to develop further plans in December which should be ready for the Fall 2019 semester.

Freshman Analiese Bush and junior Samantha Huffmaster presented one option for the food and waste categories: aerobic composting. They want to expand the campus garden’s composting program with new bins. The bins are designed with a blower to aerate the compost.

According to Bush and Huffmaster, they chose aerobic composting because, as Bush said, “It’s clean, and it doesn’t smell, and it’s quick, and it’s reliable.”

The students hope to sell the compost to perpetuate the program and eventually include the Delmarva area in compost collection and sales.

While Bush and Huffmaster planned to compost, junior Emily Dobson and freshman Carlee Berkenkemper surveyed the student body about recycling. They emailed questionnaires to determine what proportion of residents recycle, if they sort recycling, and if River Dorm students prefer the trash room or trash cans.

What they found was that many people were confused by sorting. To improve recycling at WC, they want to unify signage and move bins. They also want to participate in RecycleMania, a competition which judges campuses by their per-capita recycling.

Alumna Kelley Holocker, class of 2015, and freshman Kadan Smillie presented plans and information about energy.

Smillie showed his work documenting WC’s performance with Energy STAR, a federal program provided through the Department of Energy which suggests ways to lower spending on electricity.

One of Holocker’s solutions is her Kent Crossing Program. The program is designed to teach students about their energy bill by having Kent Crossing residents compete for the lowest bill over a period in the Spring semester. The award is not decided, but pizza was mentioned.

The final talk was given by freshman Melissa Defrancesco, who Farley said is their “social media guru.” She makes the information about sustainability condensed, updated, and available on the WC website. This is important to the project because, as Melchior said, “certain changes are going to require everyone in the student body, the staff, and the faculty.”

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