Hi! We, Stephanie Northway and Anne-Marie Buchenan, are students at the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. We are working for Andy DeMelia and the rest of Olin’s Facilities department as part of the Green Campus Summer Fellowship program. The program focuses on finding ways to make Olin more sustainable, and not only in the “green” sense; we are also ideating ways to improve stewardship toward all of Olin’s resources, from electricity and water to the kitchens and machine shops.
Much of our work involves talking with our peers to get the “student perspective” on how sustainability and stewardship efforts at Olin should proceed. We have conducted many interviews with students that are currently on campus and surveyed all Olin students on their resource-use habits. We’ve also set up a blog to track our progress and keep off-campus students updated on what we’re doing (www.greencampusolin.weebly.com). Through feedback from these, we have gained a deeper insight into the minds and values of the student body. At the same time, we’ve been learning a lot about the behind-the-scenes/inner workings of Olin and getting the Facilities perspective on the same issues. Combining these, we hope to bridge the communication gap between students and staff, because we’ve identified it as the root of many easily avoidable problems with resource use.
One thing we set out to do was make students here more aware of their energy use. We are working with Olin’s Plant Manager to collect energy data for Olin’s two dormitories; he has agreed to start recording each day’s meter reading for us. When we have enough data, we will create a graph to display on the flat-screens set up in the dining hall, which will continue to be updated each day; the idea is that simple awareness will help foster more conscientious energy use habits among students, the same way that cars with real-time gas mileage displays encourage fuel-saving driving habits. We also plan to use these data and graphs to organize a competition between the dorms where the building that uses the least energy over a certain time period will win a prize.
A second project currently in progress is the installation of data loggers on a small solar panel located on a lawn behind the dorms. The panel charges a battery where students can plug in their laptops (though they seldom do–we’ve tried to encourage them by putting a picnic table next to the panels). We aim to find out how efficient the panels are and how much energy they produce in order to assess the feasibility of future solar-powered endeavors at Olin. To this end we are installing sensors to measure light intensity, temperature, relative humidity, and electric current. And as a bonus, in addition to giving us valuable information about the solar panels, this data logging setup will also serve as a small weather station!
We have many, many other projects in mind, but we’re focusing on only a few at a time. As we move on to new projects, we’ll keep you updated! If anyone has questions, ideas, suggestions, or any other feedback, visit our website at www.greencampusolin.weebly.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Thanks for reading!
Anne-Marie and Steph