Alumni House Goes Green for 2010-2011

The Andover community will welcome its first-ever sustainable dorm next fall. In an effort to incorporate environmental awareness into student life, Anna Milkowski, Instructor in Chemistry, will transform Alumni House into a pilot dorm for residential sustainability. One of the projected initiatives includes a student blog in which dorm members will discuss their green experiences and the impact their new lifestyle is having on the environment. The dorm will also purchase only locally grown food for dorm munches and establish a compost pile and a small garden bed. “We will be identifying simple strategies that have a bigger benefit for the community. There are a number of ideas of different things we can do in the dorm: some being more influential than others,” said Milkowski. “It’s hard to say whether we would detect an impact from these small scale endeavors, but it’s still worthwhile and a fun project to raise awareness in students. The main hope for the dorm is that the students themselves are kept interested in the project and can apply their own ideas,” Milkowski continued. Milkowski said the idea for the pilot dorm spurred from student feedback and knowledge of other green dorms on prep school campuses throughout New England. “There has been a lot of progress made in residential sustainability, and a valuable next step would be to test out various student-conducted ideas to see what practices are making a difference in energy consumption, and which ideas need to be rethought,” said Milkowski. Marilyn Harris ’11 said, “This is a really rare opportunity to learn how to live sustainably at a young age. I would love to take a more active role in going green, but I just haven’t really found the time implement some bigger changes to my lifestyle.” Milkowski said she believes that running this pilot dorm is the first step to addressing campus energy consumption and environmental awareness at a basic level. Unlike the Green Cup Challenge, which only happens annually, being part of the Alumni House Residential Sustainability project is a yearlong commitment. Elizabeth Goldsmith ’11 said, “I am interested in living in Alumni next year because when you’re in a dorm where a lot of choices are made for you, it’s hard to live the way you want to. Being part of this project gives us a chance to explore sustainable opportunities in a supportive environment.” Milkowski said, “Alumni House is the ideal dorm for this project because it’s small and stands alone with its own electricity use. This makes it possible to get usage data from the dorm. We’re still working on this with OPP, but it’s definitely an important part of this project.” “Another benefit of using Alumni House for this sustainability project is that since it is so small, we are not causing a lot of campus tumultuousness. Most of the current students are moving on to other dorms, so there is no need to displace any current dorm members,” she continued. Milkowski thinks that living in Alumni House will be a much easier way for students to make a difference. Goldsmith said, “This opportunity is great because I [and all students participating] will be thinking more consciously about the impact I’m having as one person, being able to learn about greater and bigger things at a smaller level, so that we can make bigger changes within the world.” Milkowski said, “A lot of students care about the ‘big picture,’ but they think that sustainability is solely an environmental issue. However, it is related to all aspects of how our world works, from politics and economics, to recourse use.” “This is all quite fundamental and can transfer over to major issues Andover students care so passionately about,” she continued. Harris said, “At boarding school, housing is switched up every year anyways; this is an opportunity to dip my toes into a different, cleaner and greener way of living.” With the support of fellow house counselors Catherine Tousignant, Instructor in English, and Maria Litvin, Instructor in Math, Milkowski has planned the logistics of this endeavor.