Sustainability Efforts on Campus: Electrical Vehicles Introduced

Electric-powered golf carts, all brandishing stickers reading “100% Electric Power,” are driven around campus on a daily basis as part of the sustainability movement at Andover. Charging ports for the electrical vehicles (EV) have also been widely implemented around campus, most notably at Phelps House where Head of School John Palfrey charges his personal electrical vehicle. The addition of EVs to Andover’s campus fleet accommodates the grounds, technology, and athletic departments, as well as the Sykes Wellness Center for transportation for off-campus medical situations.

“Because [EVs] are powered by electricity, and because our electricity grid is getting cleaner and more renewable, electric vehicles have less emissions… and they also are able to take the energy from electricity and use it much more efficiently than a gasoline or a diesel vehicle. There’s also just some economic benefits from it,” said Allison Guerette, Campus Sustainability Coordinator.

The “Sustainability Team” on campus is comprised of Guerette and Russell Stott, both Senior Managers of Campus Design, Sustainability, and Grounds. Both work with a Sustainability Steering Committee and Climate Action Plan Working group, comprised of faculty and staff with the intent of spearheading numerous efforts toward a more sustainable campus.

With the Campus Master Plan, a framework for decision making that allows for campus renovations, in mind, the Office of the Physical Plant (OPP) works to implement more Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications. OPP is another team on campus that works towards sustainability.

The use of renovation projects enables an increase in energy efficiency, further conservation of water, and minimization of waste, in addition to preserving the natural landscape. Some LEED-certified buildings on campus include Paresky Commons and the Sykes Wellness Center. A building is LEED-certified when it consumes less energy and is considered resource-efficient by a national standard. The new Snyder Athletic Center will also pursue a ranking.

“[The LEED-certification] is a ranking system so that when you’re designing the building, you’re thinking about how is energy going to be used in the building, are the systems efficient… It’s very technical… It’s pretty strenuous to achieve and it takes a real commitment. It’s not just lip service, it’s a nationally-recognized program,” said Guerette.

Additionally, behavioral changes require a campus effort to increase awareness on sustainability issues and take action to eliminate wasteful habits.

“All over campus, there are these little efforts that are cropping up that are changing behaviors. Sometimes, it’s not always with sustainability as the main reason. It may be some reason to save money or just because something’s the right thing to do, and so people come at it from different places. It all comes together to increase the overall sustainability of the campus,” said Stott in an interview with The Phillipian.

Raising awareness is also a huge factor in increasing sustainability. Guerette and Stott partner frequently with the Eco-Action Club on-campus, which work on developing ideas into hands-on projects in the community. Eco-Action sponsored the Gunga Energy Challenge this past year, in which dorms competed campus-wide to regulate their energy consumptions.

“Early in the fall, we welcomed [her] at a club meeting where [Guerette] gave an inspiring presentation outlining all the initiatives and plans to promote sustainability on campus. Soon after, Ms. Guerette and Ms. Elliott informed the Eco-Action club about excessive plastic bottle consumption in certain dorms. As a result, our board members traveled to certain dorms and shared our motivations for reducing plastic bottle consumption,” said Gherardo Morona ’17, a member of the Eco-Action club.

Krystiana Swain ’18 believes that the topic of sustainability should be more frequent in student discussions, which would consequently increase participation and student involvement in sustainability efforts.

“From the students at least, I haven’t seen much of a big push for sustainability or anything. It’s not something that comes up in everyday conversation and it doesn’t seem to be one of our focuses… It’s not big enough among the students, we don’t have enough exposure to it,” said Swain.

Being aware of portion sizes at Paresky would also be a dramatic influence on food waste.

Thompson Uwanomen ’19 said, “I would say the most wasteful thing on campus would be the food from Paresky Commons. I tend to see large pieces of bread, or chicken, or rice just thrown out, or put back on the conveyor belt… That’s basically just an abundance of food gone to waste… I know they can’t physically make students stop wasting food, that’s impossible, but try to make students more aware of the fact that they shouldn’t take as much food as they thought, and when they finished eating, they had a lot of food left… Only eat the amount of food that they know they will finish.”

Small personal changes also go long ways for a more sustainable campus. Stott describes actions such as closing the window during heating season, turning off power strips when a dorm room is vacant, carrying reusable water bottles, and taking shorter showers as ways to decrease the ecological footprint.

“There’s all these little things that anybody can do. Together, they make this huge impact… and it doesn’t just impact here, it impacts when people go home to their families, and into the future when they have their own families. They will kind of have been set on this course where it’s a part of their life,” said Guerette.