For the second year in a row, Keene State College has been mentioned in the Princeton Review as one of the greenest campuses in the country. KSC staff and faculty have been working hard over the last couple of years to continue making green choices for the campus, while saving money along the way.
Campus Sustainability Officer Mary Jensen said this is a great recognition for the college. “I’m just pleased that they acknowledge what we’re doing, especially for a small, public school. I don’t know what brought us to this review, but we appreciate the recognition,” Jensen said.
One big change in progress is the new Technology, Design, and Safety (TDS) building that is under construction. Jensen said the building will be a LEED Platinum building, which means it will be very energy and water efficient.
Jensen said the building will be able to produce 75 percent of the power it uses.
“We need to get solar panels on the roof to do that, but we won’t be able to do that right away because it is an expensive component. But that’s what we’re working towards,” Jensen added.
The building will also serve as an educational tool for the students studying there, because all the programs in that building have some element that relates to sustainability.
Jensen also said that the college has finished an assessment of the sustainability practices on campus, a comprehensive look at everything done on campus.
For instance, she said the college has been using very few pesticides or chemicals on the grounds.
A huge project KSC is starting in May is a pilot for a potential composting project on campus that would take all of the post-plate waste from the Zorn Dining Commons and compost it.
Jensen said the Department of Campus Sustainability and the dining commons staff are working together on this project.
So far, the plans for the project have been going well, and Jensen said that if things keep progressing the way they have, the college might be ready to implement composting in August when school starts.
“One-third of the waste on campus is generated in the dining commons, and three-fourths of the waste generated from the DC is food waste, so it’s a big chunk,” Jensen added.
Contributing to the growing sustainability of campus, Jensen said that students coming to KSC are more aware of being eco-friendly and going green. She said that five years ago, students were not as knowledgeable about sustainability, but their knowledge has grown.
There has also been a lot of water conservation going on around campus since last summer. According to Bill Rymes, Chief Supervisor of Plumbing and Heating, just this semester, the staff from the physical plant have replaced four urinals in the men’s locker room of the gym.
The new urinals only use a pint of water per flush as opposed to the old ones which used a gallon and a half per flush. Rymes also said that one of the urinals needed to be replaced, so they took this opportunity to replace them all.
Over the summer, Rymes said the physical plant staff installed new shower heads in all residence halls that use one and a half gallons of water, replacing the older fixtures that used two and a half gallons.
Rymes said his crew also started looking at older residence halls that had water closets and toilets that used three and a half or five gallons of water. Since the new standard is 1.6 gallons per flush for toilets, they started replacing toilets in all of Randall Hall and Carle Hall last summer.
Another water saving change was to replace the spray hoses they use in the dish room in the dining commons, so now the hoses are using a low-flow spraying system. “So they’re using less water to spray down the dishes before they go into the dishwasher,” Rymes added.
Overall since the 2008 fiscal year, Rymes said KSC has seen a decrease in the usage of water on campus, and the decrease keeps going, thanks to changes the college is willing to make.
Two KSC seniors, Jackie Keaveney and Alyssa Arcieri, are working towards bringing go green awareness to campus. Both are interns at the City of Keene Public Works Department and the Wastewater Treatment Plant this semester.
This month during Earth Week, Keaveney and Arcieri said they helped bring Green Up Keene materials to KSC so students could go out on routes and help pick up trash.
Usually Green Up Keene is held at Railroad Square, but Keaveney and Arcieri said they wanted to bring it to campus this year, like some students had done the previous year. They invited people through Facebook to attend, and Arcieri also said they put flyers in the napkin holders in the dining commons.
“We didn’t get a huge turnout, we got more than we expected, which is great,” Keaveney added.
Keaveney and Arcieri were also involved in a senior project this year that investigated pollution in the Ashuelot River.
Their project lead them to make official plates near all the storm drains on campus, to remind students that anything that goes through the drain in the water, will continue into the Ashuelot River.
Lindsey Arceci can be contacted at