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BC Seniors Point the Way to Cost Efficiency and Sustainability

2014 Environmental Seminar Research Project Highlights

By Tim Sullivan ꞌ02

Every spring, Boston College seniors enrolled in the Environmental Seminar course conduct a semester-long research project. Each team of seniors works closely with a campus or community mentor organization to investigate a specific environmental challenge.  Students conduct an extensive literature review and then use scientific methodologies to develop specific, practical recommendations for the organizations. At the end of the semester, the teams present their findings to the class in a research paper and an informative poster presentation. The following projects from this past spring’s course highlight interesting and promising ways in which Boston College can further embrace sustainable practices.

To New Heights: Boston College and the Jesuit Mission of Sustainability

By Kathryn Kavner, Gloria Kostadinova, Joseph Manning, and Katelyn Olsson

As one of the country’s leading Jesuit institutions, Boston College is uniquely situated to lead Jesuit institutions and other colleges and universities by increasing sustainable practices across all campus activities and operations. The Jesuit mission emphasizes the relationship between social and environmental justice and aligns with the need to protect the environment. This project assessed the success of different aspects of the University – the curriculum, student service and global justice ministries, student organizations, and facilities services – in embracing and promoting sustainability and sustainable practices. This group of students found that Boston College has demonstrated leadership in sustainability and is capable of further leading in sustainability with concerted efforts across all aspects of the University’s activities and operations.

A Rooftop Garden at 129 Lake Street: A Feasibility Study of the Installation of a Green Roof on Brighton Campus

By Melissa Bizzari, Kelly Bruett, Abby Oliveira, and Enrique Salvidar

Green roofs provide improved insulation for buildings and can reduce the amount of storm water runoff that flows into urban waterways. So, green roofs are becoming more popular as a means of reducing heating and cooling costs and minimizing a building’s carbon footprint, as well as reducing storm water runoff. This research team conducted a cost-benefit analysis of installing a rooftop garden on the planned building at 129 Lake Street. The students found that over time, a green roof would provide substantial savings compared to a traditional roof. In addition to 129 Lake Street, the students identified O’Neill Library and dorms as other potential buildings suitable for green roofs.

“To Go” Containers: Improving Boston College’s Carbon Footprint through Dining Services

By Jillian Arena, Rosty Brichko, Sandra Brooks, and Kristen Volinski

Boston College Dining Services operates as an independent financial entity within the University. Dining Services discovered that its consumers’ disproportionate use of “to go” containers over china had economic and environmental consequences. This project sought to educate Boston College Dining Services consumers on proper disposal methods, as well as to evaluate Dining Services’ waste management practices and Boston College’s carbon footprint. The researchers found that the strong preference for and much greater usage of “to go” containers is due to consumer perceptions and the divergent needs of Dining Services and its customers. Recommendations included targeted student education, Dining Services employee training, and research into alternative, reusable “to go” containers.

Boston College Vending Machine Energy Audit Project Report

By Lindsey Hoyem, Nathan Lawlor, Taylor McEldowney, and Laura Schaffer

Boston College operates 146 vending machines – 101 beverage machines provided by Coca-Cola and 45 snack machines provided by Next Generation. The team found that these energy intensive machines cost the university $15,529.52 and result in the emission of 119.41 tons of carbon dioxide annually. The team recommended that the university install LED lights in the Next Generation machines and compressor controls in the Coca-Cola machines. Together, these two steps would ultimately result in $4,043 in annual cost savings and a 31-ton reduction in annual carbon dioxide emissions from vending machine power usage.

A Case Study: Solar Panels at Boston College

By Annie Meyer, Farhin Zaman, and Elizabeth Norton

Solar panels on Boston College buildings represent an effective means to introduce renewable energy on campus. This research team investigated the feasibility and potential benefits of installing solar panels on four different Boston College buildings.  Considering four factors – (1) aesthetics; (2) whether the building will still be used in ten years; (3) year round energy use; and (4) the financial offset potentially realized from energy generated by the solar panels – the team narrowed down potential campus buildings suitable for panels. The team identified four suitable buildings: Cadigan Alumni Center; 129 Lake Street; Beacon Street Garage; and St. Clements Hall. Ultimately, the team identified St. Clements Hall as the optimal location for panels. While installing solar panels on St. Clements Hall would only provide 5% of the building’s annual energy usage, it would lower the university’s energy bill and achieve an annual carbon offset of approximately 521,702 pounds. The team also found that Boston College could realize immediate savings by using a system owned by a third party as opposed to owning the system.

The 2014 Environmental Seminar research projects demonstrate that Boson College can and should continue examining day-to-day practices and operations to develop practical, cost-effective solutions that can help the university lead in sustainability and save money over time. Information about these and all 2014 Environmental Seminar research projects is available on the Environmental Studies Student Research webpage.

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