Boston College Steps Up Sustainability Initiatives
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (August 2012) — Members of this year’s Boston College freshman class will be given reusable water bottles as an alternative to plastic containers, and all students living on campus will receive a free, energy-saving LED light bulb, as the University continues its campaign for sustainability.
Other recent sustainability initiatives have included the University’s first-ever “Zero Waste” event on Aug. 3, and the second installment of the “BC Clean” program to clear residence halls of trash and discarded student belongings.
“We’ve been very encouraged by the interest and enthusiasm shown throughout the Boston College community,” said Robert Pion, program director of the University’s Sustainability Program. “Whether it’s students or employees, there is clearly a lot of support on campus for sustainability efforts — and we look to expand these in the coming academic year.”
Pion said the plan to distribute water bottles to the Class of 2016 is a case of one sustainability initiative forming the basis for another. This past spring, Edmonds Hall won the “NRG Games” — a campus competition to see which residence hall can conserve the most energy — and earned the first prize of a pizza party for the hall’s residents. Instead, Edmonds representatives opted to donate the cost of the party to support another sustainable endeavor, Pion explained.
The Edmonds donation, with help from the Energy & Engineering Office and the Sustainability Program, will now go to encouraging this year’s freshman class to seek alternatives to purchasing bottled water. Reusable bottles, along with pamphlets on campus sustainability, will be distributed at the start of the fall semester, Pion said.
“The hope is to get freshmen off to a good start in conserving resources,” he said.
Also this fall, Pion said, in partnership with NStar, BC will offer residence hall students a free LED light bulb to replace a compact fluorescent or incandescent bulb. The LED bulb will save 80 to 90 percent energy in comparison to the replaced bulb.
On another front, Pion said the first “Zero Waste” event, which took place in conjunction with a cookout for the Facilities Services division, was a success. The goal, he said, is to keep the amount of trash to less than 10 percent of all waste generated at the event, by using compostable or recyclable materials wherever possible and encouraging attendees to dispose of these appropriately.
“There were 200 people at this event, and they really got into the ‘Zero Waste’ idea,” said Pion, who praised the cooperation shown by Facilities Services, the Bureau of Conferences and Dining Services. “Hopefully, it will serve as a model for future events on campus.”
Pion said this year’s “BC Clean” program showed tremendous growth from its debut last year, when it succeeded a similar initiative, “CleanSweep.”
“CleanSweep had been a very successful program, and many people across campus were generous with their time,” he said. “The idea to donate goods instead of disposing them made so much sense. However, while CleanSweep relied on volunteer and staff time, it required multiple moves of items being donated.
“With BC Clean, the two charities are on site and items are directly moved into the trucks, students’ cars or the dumpster. This program places responsibility on the students who have purchased and owned the various items.”
The amount of discarded furniture and other household items collected this past May and donated to the charity organization Household Goods Recycling Ministry was 35 percent above that of 2011. There also were increases in collections of clothing (48 percent) and food goods (38 percent), which were donated to St. Vincent de Paul.
“BC Clean demonstrates, again, how a coordinated effort can achieve great results,” said Pion, lauding the collaboration between Facilities Services and the offices of Residential Life and Waste Management, as well as the two charity organizations.