F&M Boosts Sustainability Efforts

Water bottle filling stations, solar trash compactors and single-stream recycling are among the newest tools for sustainability to arrive on the Franklin & Marshall campus this fall.

13-08-09 Sustainability Initiatives MH-7 copyAs part of the College’s Sustainability Master Plan and overall efforts to reduce solid waste, dining halls and vending machines at F&M no longer offer bottled water. Instead, members of the campus community and visitors may fill up at any of the new 22 water filling stations around campus.

F&M’s Office of Facilities & Operations, in coordination with the College’s Sustainability Committee, worked throughout the summer to install the filling stations and implement a number of initiatives that are part of the sustainability plan endorsed last fall by faculty, students, professional staff and College trustees. The plan builds on the institution’s conservation and educational efforts of the past decade and creates a roadmap for environmental stewardship for current and future generations, with goals in areas such as water conservation, solid waste reduction and energy efficiency.

“These initiatives reduce the significant impact that we make on the waste stream, and that cannot be understated,” said Linda Aleci, associate professor of art history and chair of the Sustainability Committee. “We’re working strategically and harnessing our energy for some very targeted initiatives, and the campus should look forward to more.”

Among the sustainability measures completed during the summer or underway:

Water bottle distribution: The College provided 2,500 durable and reusable, 32-ounce water bottles that are stain and odor resistant and free of BPA—a compound used to harden plastic—to all F&M students.

  • Bottle reduction: The sale of bottled water at campus dining facilities and in vending machines is discontinued.
  • Water filling stations: Nearly two dozen water filling stations were installed in high-traffic areas such as academic buildings, College Houses, Steinman College Center and Mayser Gymnasium. The filling stations keep a running tally of how many disposable bottles each refill saves.
  • Single-stream recycling: Recyclable plastics, paper, cardboard, aluminum cans and glass may all be placed in the same containers as the campus converts to single-stream recycling. The College has added approximately 50 recycling bins for a total of 270 campuswide.
  • Solar trash compactors: Two BigBelly solar trash compactors have been installed, one near Old Main and the other near the Wohlsen Center for the Sustainable Environment. The units operate entirely on solar power and transmit messages via a wireless network to the facilities department when they are full.

Nic Auwaerter ’11 (pictured), sustainability coordinator in Facilities & Operations, is analyzing how the College uses resources and implements measures to help the campus conserve water, reduce waste and save energy.

“It takes more water to produce a plastic water bottle than is actually in the bottle itself,” he said. “If you fill up at one of our filling stations, you are saving water and the amount of energy it took to make a plastic water bottle. It’s just as easy to carry your water bottle with you and fill it up than it is to throw it away. It takes a little more planning, but ultimately it will pay off.”

Photos: Melissa Hess

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