When I came on board at Unity College last May I was told in no uncertain terms that the priorities for energy efficiency on campus would be to replace the boilers in the Library, North Coop, and South Coop. We know that 59% of our campus greenhouse gas emissions comes from burning heating fuel and that any attempt to reduce our carbon footprint will certainly address inefficiencies in buildings.
So who told me this was the priority? That these were our most inefficient systems? That replacing them would be a good start to fulfilling our carbon neutrality goals? I heard it from the former interim sustainability coordinator, Aaron Witham. I heard it from our resident energy expert, professor Mick Womersley. From facilities director, Roger Duval, from the VP for advancement, Rob Constantine, from the president of the College.
Over the summer, Roger — who knows infinitely more about boilers than I do — sought my “blessing” to move forward with the purchase and installation of a new boiler for South Coop. While students were gone over this Thanksgiving week, a swat team of contractors swooped in to replace the boiler in North Coop. Now with federal recovery money coming through the state for wood fuels, I’m investigating the possibility of a pellet system for the Library — our oldest boiler.
My point is that the “sustainable” decision for our campus is often the right decision for many reasons — not least of which, it often saves money. At some point we’ll have to replace boilers, vehicles, buildings to better serve our needs. When everyone at the school is tasked with understanding our emissions profile and incorporating sustainability into his or her job function, it’s easy to make the sustainability decision when that opportunity presents itself.