Up on the Bluff: Going Green for Winter

Alan Duff

Global warming-excuse my political incorrectness-climate change, scares me to the point that if Jill Stein weren’t so determined to thrown herself in jail constantly, I may have considered voting for her. The reason is obvious enough. If one has been paying attention to this winter, there has been a distinct lack of snow in Appleton while the Middle East has received plenty of it. Australia has broken dozens of heat records. Need I bring up Hurricane Sandy?

Fortunately, there is a way for Lawrentians to feel like part of the solution. If you derive as much pleasure as I do from reading your Lawrence account statements, you’ll have noticed that for the last two terms students have been charged five dollars a term to their accounts for the “LUCC Environmental Sustainability Fund.” At fifteen dollars a year and with 1,473 fully enrolled students, the fund should have about a $22,000 budget to spend on green projects this Spring Term. Which means if we want anything to be done with the money this spring it will need to be proposed soon.

In an effort to do some good-alleviate  my consumerism guilt-and help reduce our carbon footprint I would like to recommend three projects that Lawrence, LUCC, and Lawrentians should consider for putting the money to use.

Two years ago the campus sustainability community known as Green Roots had a site assessment done on the bluff around Alexander Gym to assess the feasibility of installing a number of wind turbines. The project was considered feasible, but before it could start, a lack of the matching funds from We Energies prevented the project from being implemented.

Wind turbines have already proven to be reliable and worthwhile projects as evidenced by our success in Björklunden. With the help of the sustainability funds and a fundraising campaign, it would be possible for this renewable energy project to become a reality and power the majority of Alexander Gym’s electricity costs, saving money in the long run as well as reducing our environmental impact.

Another option to consider is upgrading the small houses. Lawrence is a wonderful old campus. Just walk into any of the older buildings, and take a look around. Enjoy the 1920s architecture, and smell the nostalgic traces of lead and asbestos. Despite their charming aesthetics, these buildings are a major problem for energy conservation.

By upgrading the insulation, ventilation systems, and shoddily sealed windows, Lawrence could go a long way towards making these unique landmarks more efficient and airtight and save on heating costs.

Alternatively, many of these small houses have older toilets that waste a ton of water. If these funds were to be used to purchase dual flush toilets the effects would be immediate. Lawrence would save thousands of gallons of water each year by upgrading the toilets from single, to dual flush and do its part for water conservation.

I’m sure there are plenty of other ways that the LUCC Environmental Sustainability Fund could be used, but Lawrentians should be aware that there is a growing cash pot on campus. Considering that it is our money, it would be especially nice to hear input from as many Lawrentians as possible. 

So please, for the sake of doing some good, contact your LUCC representative, or the campus offices, and tell them your own green idea projects. Contact Green Roots too. If you’re really in love with the wind turbine idea, contact alumni and see if they would consider making donations for such a project.

In the meantime, I’ll just wait for this whole global warming issue to solve our winter heating problem on its own. I’m sure in a few years we won’t need the boilers at all.


Editor’s note: In this new column, Alan will suggest ideas for general campus improvements, projects he’d like to see implemented at Lawrence, and developments that could enrich Lawrence’s community and culture.