Transy puts its energy into conservation
Transylvania has hired Angela Dossett to coordinate sustainability efforts that will, in the long run, save the university millions of dollars in energy costs while reducing its carbon footprint.
The sustainability coordinator position was created in January through a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. When Dossett subsequently arrived on campus, she was impressed with the work that was already being done at Transy to promote conservation.
“There were faculty who were really involved, students and staff who were engaged,” she said. “The community garden, the rain garden, the Thomson Energy Star residence hall—these are things that had already started to work their way into campus culture. The biggest need was organization and planning.”
Dossett is developing a sustainability master plan for the campus that will combine several of the efforts already taking place and add new ones that will take the push in a focused direction.
“We’re reworking a sustainability committee to lead the effort; it’s going to be 15-20 core people with some subcommittees to advise,” she said. “We’re also going to have a series of campus-wide forums that will be open to students, faculty, and staff, so as we develop this plan, we’re getting feedback.”
Transylvania conducted an energy benchmark study that evaluated energy usage and efficiency in seven of the buildings on campus. The report found that by improving just those buildings to perform in the 50th percentile of the Energy Star level, the college could save as much as $642,000 per year on energy bills. An improvement to the Energy Star level on the entire campus could save up to $1.2 million annually.
Transy has hired a company to evaluate all of the buildings and give an estimate that would tell what energy conservation measures could be put in place, how much it would cost, how much the school would save, and how long it would take to pay off the improvements.
But many of the savings can come from the campus community itself.
“Residence halls have lots of things that are plugged in that go all the time,” Dossett said. “TVs, computers, radios, gaming systems, all of those things use a lot of energy, and most of them suck energy even when they’re not in use. Those are easy and painless things that we can do to save some money.”
Dossett debuted a Transy Unplugged week in April that encouraged students to take measures toward conserving energy, and that program will be revived in the fall with new features, including each of the residence halls receiving energy report cards.
“Any time you ask for behavior change, it’s difficult,” she said. “And any time you develop a big plan that is going to affect operations of an institution, that’s going to be difficult. But there’s a lot of momentum in the direction of going green that precedes me, and it makes it easier for me to jump on that momentum and go with it and direct it in a more focused way.”
To contact Dossett, call (859) 233-8278, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
View how Transy is becoming sustainable.