Saturday, March 22, 2008

Why Unity is "America's Environmental College":

From: Mark Tardif

Hello Everyone,

I have a project that is due on Monday that requires me to offer a brief, accurate description in no more than a few sentences with some additional supporting bullet points explaining why Unity is America's Environmental College.

I welcome your thoughts on why Unity is America's Environmental College. Why do you think that Unity is America's Environmental College? You can approach that head-on, or just address your part of it. Reasons can include present, curriculum, focus, past, initiatives, awards, student body or additional points. I welcome it all.

Thanks so much.

Best, Mark Tardif, Associate Director of College Communications Answer:

Mick's somewhat punchy answer, written at 5am Saturday, after a early bout of lambing (pictures here),

Because, in a comprehensive program of sustainability thinking instituted since 1999, and in many frugal ways, long before, all the way back to 1965 when we recycled a farm into a campus,

a) We have the least actual per student carbon emissions of any college or university (we have been able to get data for), which means

b) We are (very possibly or very likely) the most energy-efficient college when it comes to fossil fuel energy used per unit of education, despite being located in the frozen north, and

c) We have the best conceived and best thought-out general approach to the sustainability problem. "Frugal" "real-time" sustainability means saving energy now, on site, and developing a sustainable college lifestyle right now, that reduces our ecological footprint and adds to the sense of well being and community we enjoy. If it's frugal and real-time, anyone can do what we do. By not jumping on bandwagons, and by doughtily considering each new proposition on it's merits with neither fashion nor favor, we have actually reduced our real, per capita student climate emissions (and thus carbon-based fuel use) by 28% since 2001, and our overall emissions by 21%. This has been achieved by actually doing the things you SHOULD do to reduce emissions, in the proper conceptual order, not by using "funny money" offset schemes, ie

d) First, retrofitting older, less efficient buildings, insulation, remodeling for efficiency, and replacing heat plant. So far, we have completely made over Constable Hall, put more insulation in East View, West View, Koons and Coops, put new more efficient heat plant in Woods Hall and Activities, switched out all the light bulbs, and many appliances and computers (some of this was done long ago) &c

e) Then, building any new green buildings to a frugal but sensible green standard. The current standard is BIB insulation walls to R26, heated, floating (insulated) slab floors, R50-60 in ceilings, local lumber (studs and sheathing, also local trusses), Andersons best windows and doors. Our new buildings will be built to an even higher standard, starting with the President's House. Green buildings so far total 4 or 5: Admissions, Cianchettes, Maplewood, Health Center, also Admissions annex, all of which have exemplary energy use, and if I have my way, will soon be switched to renewable heat fuels,


f) we have a considerable program of sustainability outreach, including, CEE Online, our fledgling energy audit service program, our wind assessment work, our support of the Maine Governors Climate Challenge and Maine Housing Energy Efficiency Programs, our Agriculture, Food and Sustainability degree program partnership with MOFGA, our hoophouse at the grade school, our environmental educators at camps all around the state and country, our weatherization teams (for Maine Housing, the year before last), our hurricane and tornado disaster relief work (currently on their way home from cleaning up debris in Tennessee), our Sustainability Blog (visited by thousands), our students' green articles in the local paper, our new magazine, our Jimmy Carter solar panel video and museum donation program, our Sustainability House project and blog, and on and on,


g) Long before any other college did so (1999), before 100/bbl oil, and long before Al Gores book and movie, we instituted a required class in scientific ecological sustainability, including climate science and energy science for ALL students, so all students that have graduated since 2002 or 2003 have had coursework in energy problems, preparing them for a world of 100/bbl oil (for which I get occasional thank-you notes), and we now have curriculum for degree programs in these areas, and a growing number of students concentrating in food or energy sustainability,


h) We have successful programs (although under-supported) in food waste composting, in growing vegetables and livestock on campus, in maple sugar and honey production, and in brokering local foods supply to the cafeteria,

and, most importantly of all,

i) Our students that have been an active part of this hive of sustainability activity (not all have been a part of it, except for their required coursework) have gone on to take these ideas into the world, and are advancing the wealth of human knowledge and adaptability, and generally finding ways to renew civilization despite the threats posed by high energy costs and climate change, which renewal of civilization is what we're in business to enable in the first place. To which witness Stef's wonderful post below, which appeared spontaneously this morning! I did not pay her to do this!

Love and lambs,


No comments: