Science Center to Conserve Electricity, Natural Gas & Water
november 2, 2007

Charged up to Save Energy

New Science CenterOne of the most discussed, debated, and researched topics in science today is the environment and the conservation of its natural resources. Stonehill has this issue on the forefront of its mind as the College constructs a new state-of-the-art Science Center.

“The Science Center is the image of energy use. It is a very energy intensive building,” explains Roger Goode, associate vice president for Operations. “Our thought was to make it as energy efficient as possible for all of the hours that it is in operation.”

Improving Environmental Performance
Roger GoodeAlthough the College has launched new initiatives to help preserve the environment and conserve resources, this is the first time that Stonehill has planned a building – from the groundbreaking to the final finishes – with a commitment to be energy conscious and efficient.

In adherence with National Grid’s Advance Building Labs 21, a utility campaign designed to improve energy efficiency and environmental performance in laboratories, the Science Center will work toward electrical savings.

Goode cites, however, that all of the Center’s elements including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing will operate more efficiently. 

Adding Energy Efficient Features
The obvious features such as spiral fluorescent light bulbs, motion sensors, and programmable thermostats will be easily noticeable. Beyond these visible components, the Center will also be constructed with a high-performance building envelope, meaning that the exterior walls and roof will have higher quality and more insulation. 

Additionally, high performance window glazing will be used throughout, and energy efficient air cooled chillers and lighting systems will be installed. (See sidebar for a complete listing of energy efficient features.)

Another benefit of this energy conservation model is that it will serve as a teaching opportunity. 

“We’re thrilled that the new building will incorporate more energy saving technologies than our other buildings. We’ve asked for ways – such as meters in relatively public places – through which our students can see the impacts of the conservation efforts,” says Susan Mooney, director of the Environmental Studies program.

Protecting Resources
Implementing some of these features may drive up initial costs, Goode explains, but it is the right thing to do to help protect resources.

“If we spend a little extra money initially but it will help preserve the environment and will save dollars for the many years that the building is in operation, then it is worth it. We have to look at the big picture.” 

Looking at the big picture is exactly what the College has been doing more of in terms of environmental awareness.

Building Awareness
Faculty advocate Susan Mooney“We are not just about energy efficiency in the new building. Rather, we are trying to build a more prominent awareness and philosophy on campus,” says Goode, noting that there is more recycling than ever before, including recent new initiatives for ink cartridges and batteries.

In fact, built-in recycling locations have been planned for each floor of the Science Center.

Lighting retrofits and motion detectors in classrooms, offices, and other high use areas such as the Martin Institute, the Roche Dining Commons and some residence halls have been installed. Yearly campus-wide audits allow for electrical and plumbing updates to be included in the budget cycle.

Students Spearhead Conservation
Facilities Management along with the Students for Environmental Action, a group designed to raise awareness and change habits, has spearheaded many of these conservation efforts. Further, in May 2007, the College supported the formation of a cross-divisional Environmental Stewardship Committee.

Student leader Amy Churchill '08Biology and Environmental Studies major Amy Churchill ’08, sees the energy efficiency of the Science Center, a building that will unite the disciplines, as a symbol of joining together to care for a unifying cause – energy conservation.

Churchill points out that the College’s next steps should be building student and employee awareness to participate in conservation initiatives.

“Environmentally minded actions need to become commonplace and routine,” said Churchill, who is a member of both of the environmental committees as well as a student representative on the Science Center planning committee. “Turning off the lights should become automatic, as should turning off computers at night.” 

As Goode notes, “It is really about how we can each make an impact in big and small ways -- then, we can make a difference.”

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