Can you sustain it?

On the third day of the Scots Science Scholars program our group met up with Bruce Guillaume, Director of Mountain Challenge at Maryville College, to take a sustainability tour. This was the first time I had ever taken a sustainability tour and was intrigued.

The solar array in front of LEED certified Crawford house with the Alpine tower in the background.

Bruce started off at the Clayton Center, near our campus steam plant, which I thought was very interesting. Maryville College has been using its steam plant powered by biomass (wood chips) since the 1970’s energy crisis and is currently the only college in Tennessee to use this method. The steam plant is responsible for heating most of the buildings on campus during the winter months. Maryville College currently pays 1.2 million dollars for their energy bill per year. Our students plan on reducing energy cost in the residence halls by being more conscientious; for example, using task lighting, which is a form of lighting that involves only turning on lights that you need in the space you are working. A small goal of a ten percent reduction would save us around fifty thousand dollars a year. Maryville has recently changed the light bulbs from magnetic ballast fluorescents to electronic ballast fluorescents and the college has future plans to switch all bulbs to L.E.D lights.

The solar docks on the day they were installed. You can often see MC students and faculty working at these tables throughout the day.

Maryville College also uses solar power.  There are solar panel picnic tables outside of Pearsons Hall, which hold energy during the day and through the night to allow students to recharge electronics. The college received an energy initiative grant that funded the picnic tables and solar panels. The solar panels also power most of Crawford house, the home of Mountain Challenge. Crawford house is the second oldest building on campus and only has an energy bill of approximately 600 dollars a year. The house is certified L.E.E.D. Gold, which means it is one of the most self-sufficient buildings in the country. The process of making the old house certified was a student led project where special paint was applied to the walls, the house was cleaned with green chemicals, Trex recycled wood was installed on the porches, and rain barrels collect water to reuse in the garden. The Crawford house is the third oldest L.E.E.D Gold building in the country. By showcasing this historic landmark, Maryville College is demonstrating its seriousness on energy sustainability.

In addition to cutting back on energy usage, Maryville College believes it is very important to recycle. We students and our faculty together recycle 60 tons of recyclable material per year. By offering us recycling bins, it is easier for each individual student to play a significant role. With all of the sustainability initiatives, Maryville College hires students to keep up the majority of the work. There are students currently finding out how much trash the campus produces to better our understanding of how much garbage we actually waste. Many of the students running these projects are Scots Science Scholars and there will be more opportunities available for my class of S3 students.

The author during chemistry lab.

After the tour I am more inspired to contribute to keeping the environment healthy. I want to leave behind an efficient planet for generations to come. The amazing programs Maryville College offers will help me reduce the carbon footprint of our campus.

Submitted by 2015 Scots Science Scholar Mona Patel

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