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Treading Lightly

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Students go green at the Sustainable Living Center

"The most difficult aspect of striving to live 'green' is that you can never get as far as you'd like to," says Kate Schnippering '10, one of the inaugural residents of Dartmouth's new Sustainable Living Center (SLC).

slcSchnippering, a computer science and studio art double major from Newfields, N.H., eats locally grown produce, avoids plastic utensils in the dining halls, eschews a hair dryer, and takes the stairs instead of the elevator.

Formerly called North Hall (next to Cutter Shabazz), the SLC houses 19 students, chosen from about 30 applicants.

SLC resident Sam Welch '10, from Sonora, Calif., says that the trick is to do "no-brainer" activities until they become routine. "Living green is really not that difficult," he says. "It's all about habit-forming choices, some of them as mind-numbingly obvious as turning off the lights when you leave a room."

The residents have started a worm compost. They minimize water use with timed showers and short, cold cycles for laundry. They have abandoned their clothes dryer in favor of air drying; they use power strips to make it easier to turn off lights, appliances, and computers with one switch. They have a busy calendar of guest speakers, such as John Gratiot, vice president for Facilities Operations and Management. They take field trips, such as the trip to D Acres in Dorchester, N.H., to learn about setting up a root cellar. They host workshops, like the pawpaw tasting to introduce students to this native eastern U.S. fruit with a custardy texture and a tropical taste.

Bradley Sustainable Living Center resident Alice Bradley '11 (right) introduces a visitor to the eco-conscious dormitory during the September dedication and open house. (Photo by kawakahi kaeo amina '09, illustration by kate schnippering '10)

Hannah Dreissigacker '09, from Morrisville, Vt., calls the SLC "a living laboratory where students can constantly add things, and academic projects can improve the house and how people live in it."

Kathy Fallon Lambert '90, the sustainability manager at Dartmouth, says, "The students in the SLC have not only embraced the challenge of living sustainably, but they are developing new approaches to measuring its impact and are opening their doors to members of the community who want to learn more about sustainability."

SLCers are not the only green-minded students working to keep sustainability on the radar screen at Dartmouth. Representatives from the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO) also spread earth-friendly messages through their residence hall recycling initiative, the Carry Your Trash Week event, and Earth Week programming. And the students involved in the Big Green Bus, Dartmouth's veggie-oil-powered school bus, promote alternative fuels and energy conservation during their annual cross-country trek.

Students at the SLC welcome input, ideas, and feedback. Click here to send email or click here to visit them online.

By SUSAN KNAPP

College to Cut Emissions 30 Percent by 2030

President James Wright has announced that Dartmouth will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2030.

"There is no doubt that energy, sustainability, and climate change will be the defining challenges of this century," Wright says. "Dartmouth, which has a long tradition of leadership on environmental issues, is proud to make this pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

The plan combines demand-side energy reductions, supply-side efficiency improvements, and high-performance new building and renovation design.

"When fully implemented, the College should see an annual savings of over
$2 million, which means that this will pay for itself in about four to five years," says Adam Keller, executive vice president of finance and administration, of the $12.5 million investment.

Click here to read Wright's letter to the community.

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 11/26/08