Green Mountain College the first Energy Star
In 1999, the Environmental Protection Agency named Green Mountain College the country’s first Energy Star Showcase Institution. The recognition was the result of the College’s initiative to replace all residential light fixtures on campus with fixtures meeting the Energy Star standards for efficiency and safety. The College retrofitted or replaced more than 2,900 light fixtures and 1,500 light bulbs in 429,000 square feet of campus facilities, including dormitories, classrooms, offices, administrative areas, and maintenance areas. The project was completed through a performance contract with SIEBE Environmental, an environmental services company based in New Jersey.
Environmental Ethos at Work
Largely because of its commitment to protecting the environment, Green Mountain College decided to upgrade its lighting in 1997. Once Green Mountain replaced fixtures with Energy Star labeled fixtures, it started saving more than 260,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) annually. In many buildings on campus, these lights also help cut air-conditioning costs because they give off less excess heat and help keep the indoor temperature low in the summer.
Motion detecting light fixtures are used in the newly renovated SAGE Hall. Public rooms including bathrooms, recycling and laundry rooms, and common rooms have had light sensors installed.
GMC has installed motion sensors on all of the soda vending machines on campus. Provided by VendingMisers, these sensors allow the machines to lay dormant with reduced electricity consumption until someone passes by.
Despite increases in the number of computers on campus, the college’s monthly electricity usage declined from 119,280 kWh in March 1997 to 84,174 kWh in January 2000, thanks in part to Energy Star labeled fixtures and other energy-saving efforts.
A Tradition of Conservation
In the summer of 2008, Kenneth Coe, educational technology specialist at Green Mountain College’s Griswold Library, began replacing existing 32 watt fluorescent bulbs in the three-story library building with more energy efficient, longer lasting 28 watt bulbs. By removing a total of 505 older bulbs, the library has cut its electricity use by 34% compared to 2008, a reduction that will save the College an additional 62,216 kilowatt hours a year.
The project stemmed from a 2008 Student Campus Greening Fund proposal developed by student Mara Smith ‘09. Smith focused her attention on the library because the building is open seven days a week throughout the school year and is usually open late at night. As assessment revealed that many lighting fixtures were positioned over the stacks and other areas where direct lighting isn’t necessary. Coe and Elliot Shor '10 discovered a third of the bulbs in the building could be eliminated while still providing adequate lighting where it is needed most.
Other efforts designed to increase the energy efficiency of buildings include window replacement. Through its own revenue sources and funding from Campus Leading on Energy and Education Grants (CLEAN) grant program sponsored by Vermont U.S. Rep. Peter Welch and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, the College began a three year window replacement program. By the summer of 2011, GMC will have replaced all 600 windows in student residence halls.
Walking the Talk
For the past decade, GMC has been annually replacing and upgrading steam pipes throughout campus. These improvements show the continued efforts to improve efficiency and energy savings at Green Mountain College.