George Went Green: What Happened?

By Grace Arenas
Elm Staff Writer

“George Goes Green” began as a student-led web campaign in 2006, and now has morphed into largely administration-run initiatives, with a noticeable absence on campus.

it seems as though the environmental awareness movement has been receiving less attention this year. However, students and faculty alike have not lost sight of the importance of eco-friendly endeavors here at Washington College.

According to a report by the Center for Environment and Society, sixty-two percent of the College’s greenhouse gas emissions from 2006-2007 were produced by its purchased electricity, electricity is also one of the largest expenditures.

Reducing overall usage is also an objective of WC. In the Greenhouse Gas Emission Report, prepared by Climate Action Coordinator Briggs Cunningham, it states that measures such as replacing light bulbs with LED or CFL lighting, installing geothermal systems in place of older HVAC systems, and “improving the quality and quantity of energy-saving reminders to students, faculty, and staff” would greatly decrease the amount of energy used on campus.

Shane Brill, WC’s Web Editor, says a key to saving energy is establishing benchmarks for energy usage in individual buildings.

“Right now, we have no real way of quantifying how much each building uses,” said Brill, citing one of the main obstacles to effective conservation.

Students recognize the need for action. Freshman Megan McCurdy, who works as a member of WC’s recycling team, says she collects anywhere from 10-40 lbs of recyclables per building on her rounds.
“With the way things are looking now, I mean we’ve got the oil spill, landfills overflowing, and deforestation,” she said. “We can’t reverse the damage that’s already been done, so it’s our responsibility to prevent further damage.”

Co-Presidents of the Student Environmental Alliance, junior Daniel Danko and senior Nicole Robinson, note the many projects SEA was involved in this semester, such as the Eastern Neck Island trash clean-up, the plan to push for more sustainable, local foods in the dining hall, and “collaborating with Chestertown in their effort to become more green.”

Junior Kelsey Hallowell has a plan that would bring WC and the surrounding community together for such a purpose. An intern for the Center for Environment and Society since her freshman year, Hallowell has proposed a community garden, potentially located in the LaMotte property of WC, opposite Walgreens.

“My hope is that a community garden in Chestertown will establish a stronger relationship between Washington College and Chestertown residents by serving as a common place for all members to work, learn, and grow together,” said Hallowell, noting that the college could grow fresh, in-season vegetables and fruits for the dining hall and that local grade schools could visit the garden to teach its students the benefits of healthy living.

Brill supports Hallowell’s proposal and the garden’s potential to elevate environmental awareness.
“What we need to learn is that in order to save the world, it can’t be done by individuals. It has to be as a community, one with a shared cultural vision,” Brill said. “Washington College is one such community capable of doing this.”

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