A pilot program for recycling paper products is now underway in North Academic Hall in Bedford and the Federal Building in Lowell where the SAC added recycling bins on each floor to make it easier for students and faculty to recycle. “We got a grant to start a major geothermal project on the Bedford campus last spring,” Klein noted. “Test wells for the closed-loop ground source heat pump were drilled in the parking lot behind Henderson Hall. When completed, the system could provide much of the heating and cooling needs of the building. However, this project is currently on hold because it will need a great deal more money to complete,” she said. “Our biggest carbon footprint is that we are a commuter school,” Klein added. “Students, faculty and staff all use cars to get here. We are working on solutions, but it can be difficult because work schedules are so varied.” The next major sustainability event at Middlesex is a two-day, one-credit interdisciplinary weekend on April 8 and 9 in Bedford and Lowell titled Beyond Consumption: Exploring a Sustainable Future. It will focus on the question: In a world increasingly focused on economic growth and consumption, how can we develop and sustain the things we value? Participants will look at how history, tradition, culture, spirituality, politics and science shape our relationship to the natural world. Participants also will attend the MCC Theater Department production of Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, and hear the world premiere of a composition written by music faculty member Mark Berger. The weekend will include a Sustainability Fair on the Bedford campus. The SAC is a very diverse group, representing all areas of the college. There is a core group of active members whose work responsibilities are often directly related to sustainability. However, all members work together to achieve the committee’s goals. Matt Sepe, Dean of Facilities Management, is a very active SAC member. He focuses on reducing energy consumption and energy costs in all buildings. He works with utility companies to negotiate rates and get rebates and discounts, and looks for opportunities to conserve, always trying to reduce our carbon footprint as well as reduce expenses. Profiles “Facilities is at the forefront of the college’s sustainability efforts,” he said. “Middlesex is actually well below the energy consumption levels of other Massachusetts community colleges, according to a recent study by Sightlines, a national facilities advisory service which compares data from comparable institutions. We have switched HVAC equipment on both campuses and replaced the old systems with more efficient systems. We are definitely making progress.” Sepe noted that the Facilities Department now works with the registrar on MCC’s classroom reservation and allocation system to determine how many people will need to use a building at the same time in order to optimize heating and cooling systems. By consolidating people into one building for weekend academics and events, energy and money is saved. Also, all Middlesex computers now automatically shut off at 10 p.m. – in case people forgot to shut down. “Many electronics continue to draw electricity even after they are turned off,” Sepe noted. “Electricity, carbon emissions and money can be saved by simply unplugging all electronics.” MCC Environmental Health & Safety Officer Frank Morande, another active SAC member, deals with procurement issues and the disposal of hazardous wastes from science labs and art classes. “We are getting much more aggressive in our approach to disposing of hazardous wastes and in monitoring purchases to make sure all materials ordered are as safe as possible,” he said. “We now have a system to review all MSDS (materials safety data sheets) for items requested by various departments to see if materials are safe or if there are better alternatives.” Morande also works with Mass Rides to get people to carpool, bike and use public transit. He is also looking into alternative ways of getting people between the two campuses without using individual autos. Chris Fiori, Director of Student Accounts, is another active committee member. “My focus is to explain sustainability issues to students and the entire college community. Our students care about sustainability. The challenge is to get them involved, especially since most students have very busy lives off campus,” Fiori said. “The committee recently hired a student through the work-study program to work on the SAC website and newsletters, and to reach out to students to increase their awareness of sustainability issues and get them involved.” Fiori is now working on plans for a Sustainability Month in April on both campuses and other outreach efforts to get everyone involved in sustainability. “We (continued on next page) 4 SAC members with some of the MCC recycling containers: (left to right) MCC Science Professor and SAC Chairwoman Jessie Klein; Chris Fiori, MCC Director of Student Accounts; Matt Sepe, MCC Dean of Facilities Management; and Sheri Denk, Coordinator of MCC’s Center for Community Engagement. |15|