2016 Research Projects

Building a Green Recreation Complex: Sustainable Considerations for the Future of Boston College Campus Recreation

Austin Mitchell, Marina Petrilli, Daniel Sundaram

The Flynn Recreation Complex is actively used by students, faculty, and residents of the surrounding area, boasting 12,449 unique visits to the Flynn Complex during the 2013-2014 school year. Opened in March 1972, the Flynn Complex is set to be replaced by a new recreation facility as part of Boston College’s Institutional Master Plan (IMP). Because of increasingly strict Massachusetts building codes, a new LEED certification matrix, and Boston College’s commitment to creating an environmentally friendly campus, the energy efficiency and sustainable design of the new recreation facility are particularly important. This study examines the possible energy efficiency and water saving techniques that can be employed in the construction and design of the new recreation facility in order to achieve the highest level of LEED Silver certification. Research on the energy and water use of the current Flynn Recreation Complex as well as comparable recreation centers at other universities will be used in the hopes of creating an informed study on an energy and water efficient building.

Collaborative Governance in Wastewater Treatment: Implementing a Publically owned Pretreatment Plant

Olivia Guyon and Kelsey Quartuccio

The increasingly restrictive regulatory framework that exists for wastewater treatment can sometimes hinder the actual control of pollution. Particularly, industrial wastewater is a threat to human health and ecosystems. Unfortunately, areas in economic hardship are prevented from enforcing compliance for industrial users of their publically owned treatment works in fear of pushing the much-needed industry out. A proposed solution to this problem is the creation of a Publically Owned Pre-treatment Plant that treats all of the areas industrial waste in lieu of the industries themselves. In order to establish a Publically owned pretreatment plant, we propose to use collaborative governance to limit the financial burden on municipalities.

Comparison and Analysis of Energy Use Practices in Gasson Hall and Stokes Hall with Recommendations for Improvement

Emily Polanowicz and Jeffrey Sabo

Attention and urgency to reduce electrical consumption in buildings and utilize more sustainable technologies are required now more than ever. Stokes Hall and Gasson Hall are two iconic buildings on the Boston College campus.  Gasson Hall, the university’s marquee building constructed in 1913, is a four-floor building of 72,610 square feet with spaces for multiple functions including dean’s offices, a large room for special functions, and numerous classrooms. Stokes Hall is a 2013 Leed certified “Silver” building of 183,000 square feet that houses administrative offices, classrooms, and a cafe.  Through energy studies of each building, we aim to compare and contrast the energy footprint of these two distinctive buildings and identify ways to decrease energy consumption particular to each building and its uses.

Effects of Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline Construction in Massachusetts: An Analysis of Knowledge and Opinions in Dedham, West Roxbury, & Newton

Breanne Kenney, Anna Schwarz, Ian Adler, and Ben Jesme

Our project’s aim was to find the public opinion and level of awareness on natural gas pipeline impacts on society and the environment. We sought to gain knowledge of the populace’s opinion on pipeline expansion in Massachusetts, whether they support their elected officials stepping in, and what they expect the effects of these pipelines to be upon completion of the projects, in conjunction with demographics. We researched impacts of pipelines in other regions to determine the potential economic and environmental impacts in Massachusetts. 

Elevator Energy Audit: An Analysis of Elevator Energy Efficiency at Boston College

Tom Schoder, Lucy Alexander, and Margaret Mae Cahill

As more and more efforts go into climate change mitigation, it is our responsibility as the consumer to reduce our consumption of energy and our toll on the environment. However living in an industrialized society can pose challenges to conservation as it becomes easier to take resources like energy for granted. We decided to research a narrower field of energy consumption and determine more about the elevator usage on Boston College’s campus. Often elevators are used in place of stairs out of convenience and ease, but in doing so, a large amount of energy is expended that could have been avoided under some circumstances. With our research, we hoped to determine possible options for reducing energy consumption with elevator use on campus. We hoped to determine how often people use elevators, how much energy the elevators in Maloney Hall and the Commonwealth Avenue Garage consume, and how many elevators are on campus. Ultimately, we hope to determine how people can be incentivized to use the stairs as well as discover alternatives to using elevators. We installed a monitoring device on an elevator in Maloney Hall and one in the Commonwealth Avenue Garage. We also created and distributed an online survey to better understand the Boston College community’s habits in regards to taking the stairs or the elevator. A brief in person survey was also done which confirmed the results from the online survey. Lastly, we staged an intervention by placing signs around the elevators to encourage the use of stairs. Through these efforts, it was determined that time and physical exertion were the two most common reasons people elected to take the elevator over the stairs. It was also learned that most people when they are considering their energy consumption do not factor in their elevator usage. Through the monitoring, we were able to determine that the Maloney elevators are substantially more efficient than the Commonwealth Avenue Garage elevators, and that during the intervention, there was a 21% reduction in energy usage from the elevator. With these findings, we recommend that Boston College continue to pursue their efforts to reduce community member’s elevator usage by continuing with the interventions and by installing more efficient elevators and better stairwell placement during new construction projects 

Food Waste at Boston College Sporting Events: Report of the Waste Audit of Conte Forum and Possible Solutions

Taylor Blake, William Lee, and Megan Sonier

With the 2014 Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban, Boston College (BC) must look for ways to reduce food waste stream to landfills. Food waste, when dumped in a landfill, emits methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide (EPA, 2015). While studies have been conducted to assess and reduce the amount of waste generated by on­campus dining halls, no such study has measured the amount of waste produced at Conte Forum, BC’s ice hockey and basketball arena, which operates up to 16 concessions food stands.

This study presents the data collected through the performance of a waste audit at two sporting events at Conte Forum. A waste audit is is an analysis of a specific facility’s waste stream, which identifies the types of waste generated and the methods in which it is disposed of. We broke our audit down into two separate studies: 1) waste generated by BC concessions and 2) waste generated by consumers post­purchase. We found that currently, all food waste produced at Conte Forum is directed to landfills. Furthermore, the majority of the waste produced at a single sporting event can be attributed to the vendor side of the equation, with the consumers­driven waste, on average, only compromising 14 percent of the total waste generated. We then used the data collected through this audit to make projections on different waste scenarios based on game attendance, the environmental and social impacts of the food waste generated, before exploring solutions to reduce Conte Forum’s food waste. 

Implementing POPP in Springfield, MA

Anxhela Mile

To foster growth and development in cities outside Boston, a Publically-Owned Pretreatment Plant (POPP) can drastically help people who are not repeating the benefits of a growing economy. Generally, a Publically-Owned Treatment Work (POTW) is designed to treat domestic sewage only. However, POTWs also receive wastewater from industrial or non- domestic users and may receive toxic waste that it cannot fully treat to certain environmental standards. Implementing a POPP is a viable alternative to the current structure. The POPP is intended to serve as an environmental, economic, and social tool that can benefit both residents and business owners in a deserving city. If towns constructed the POPP, the costs and liabilities associated with water pollution would no longer fall on firms independently. Instead, a POPP will be a tremendous incentive for industrial businesses to relocate to towns, bringing in new jobs, tax revenue, and economic revitalization. Springfield, located in Western Massachusetts is a city that can benefit from the POPP by moving towards their goal of better employment, public services, and increased water quality for citizens and for the environment. This paper assesses the implementation of a POPP in Springfield, Massachusetts, examining the treatment processes under EPA standards, the newly proposed process, the costs, funding, benefits, and future implications of Publically-Owned Pretreatment Plant. 

Zero Emissions Bus Potential Amongst Massachusetts Universities

Olivia Griot,
Sam Beard, and Jaclyn McBain

Due to the pressures of fossil fuel emissions on a warming climate, it is imperative for the health of the planet to reduce the use of carbon­based energy wherever possible. One of the biggest groups of carbon emitters in the U.S. economy is the transportation sector, and a major source of fossil fuel emissions in the transportation sector is from diesel­fueled buses. There is potential to reduce the carbon emissions from buses by transitioning bus systems to electric buses. Some college campuses across the U.S. have successfully reduced their carbon emissions by developing electric bus systems for their students. However, no university in Massachusetts currently uses an electric bus system. The purpose of this study is to examine the potential for zero­emissions bus systems to be implemented on Massachusetts college campuses. The feasibility of electric bus systems was examined using a cost comparison of electric to diesel, as well as potential emissions reductions from transitioning to electric buses. These comparisons, along with criteria concerning the size of school’s bus system and their commitment to sustainability, led to a recommendation for electric bus systems to be implemented at the University of Massachusetts­Amherst, Boston University, and Tufts University. The model developed in this paper also has the potential to be extended to other Massachusetts universities, and the recommendations made are universal for schools across Massachusetts.