Keeping it Green: Conservation at PA and Beyond

As part of an ongoing effort to improve energy conservation, Phillips Academy has added the position of Sustainability Coordinator to the faculty, filled by Rebecca Bogdanovitch, former Teaching Fellow in Community Service. The Academy is planning two main energy conservation projects this year. It is attempting to phase in more noticeable recycling bins and also replace current light bulbs with Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL). Other efforts PA has taken to maximize energy efficiency include raising conservation awareness, expanding the use of the school’s energy management system, investing in energy efficient buildings, and developing more efficient power plant operating procedures. The Office of Physical Plant (OPP) first determined the finances needed to buy of CFLs in bulk. Jon McDonnell, Manager of Mechanical Trades at the Physical Plant, then worked with Ms. Bogdanovitch and house counselors to plan the school-wide distribution of the bulbs. The CFL bulbs are more energy efficient, as they use only 14 watts of energy to produce the same amount of light a typical 60-watt incandescent light bulb. According to Ms. Bogdanovitch, this change will save Phillips Academy over $2,600 in electrical costs each academic year. Not only will the new bulbs decrease electricity costs, they will also reduce pollution. The CFL bulb’s average energy life is approximately six times that of a 60-watt incandescent one. OPP purchased one bulb for each boarding student to use in a lamp in his dorm room. OPP has delivered the bulbs throughout the week for the house counselors to distribute at the next dorm meeting. Ms. Bogdanovitch acted as a liaison between OPP and house counselors for the CFL bulb project. She hopes to create more partnerships like this in the future of Phillips Academy energy conservation. She also hopes to “revamp the recycling system to make it more visible and more user-friendly.” The plan is to phase in new, clearly labeled bins starting at the highest traffic areas on campus. The long-term goal of the recycling program is to make a uniform system across campus that makes it difficult to not recycle, despite the fact that PA is a big campus with many different buildings. Michael Williams, Director of Facilities, recommends further focus on community energy conservation as well as continued investment in conservation efforts, and said, “All of us as residents of this country full time or part time, consume a greater amount of global resources than our counterparts in many other areas of the world. We should change this if we can. Even small improvements help.” In the past, PA has worked with the town of Andover to improve campus recycling. OPP and the Technology Department have also become more efficient at sorting and recycling all types of waste products. According to Mr. Williams PA produces an average of 55 tons of trash per month and recycles about 10 tons per month. OPP construction creates about nine tons of waste per month. The school also consumes about 10 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, 4 million cubic feet of water and approximately 1.5 million therms of natural gas and oil annually. Williams strongly suggested that students “conserve heat, water, etc. when possible, report problems to OPP, turn off lights and computers when not in use, [and] encourage awareness of resource consumption and waste.” On Wednesday, S. Thayer Zaeder, Instructor in Art, and Ms. Bogdanovitch began adding and replacing recycling bins in Kemper Auditorium, GW, and the Borden Gym. The old recycling bins said “cans only,” whereas the new bins are more clearly labeled to encourage students to recycle bottles and other plastic as well as cans. Mr. Zaeder, an active participant in Andover’s recycling programs, worked with Ms. Bogdanovitch to decide how many trash cans are actually necessary. The goal was to make it just as easy to recycle as is it is to throw things away. Phillips Academy’s Eco-Action club has met twice this year, and is still deciding how it will improve recycling and conservation on campus. One idea is to create a movie to be played around campus instructing students on how to recycle and conserve energy. Ms. Bogdanovitch hopes to increase student leadership in the recycling program. One step she is taking is to publish monthly or bi-weekly “Green Tips,” which will eventually become the responsibility of a student.