Living the Green Life
In late August, residents of Warren Green, the newly renovated, energy-efficient student residence on Mead Way, settled into their new home for the academic year. That first night, they held a meeting to discuss house rules. But in addition to hashing out practical issues, such as a schedule for buying toilet paper, they also discussed the importance of buying less toilet paper and being more mindful of the waste that they, as a house, produce.
Warren Green is a joint venture between the student group Sustainable SLC and the College's Sustainability Committee, which is dedicated to reducing the College's carbon footprint. As evidenced by the posters on the walls (one of which declares "Bicycling is Beautiful") and the extensive recycling area in the kitchen, the 13 ecologically minded students are committed to environmental justice—and eager to incorporate it as is a guiding principle in their daily lives.
Last spring, interested students interviewed with the Sustainability Committee for spots in the house. Then, over the summer, a number of energy-saving renovations were made to the building. Solar panels that use glycol, a renewable resource, are now the primary source of hot water. (On cloudy days, an on-demand water heater provides supplemental heat.) On one half of the house, gutters funnel rainwater into a 500 gallon tank, where it will be used to water a vegetable garden. Inside, all appliances are energy-efficient—including the microwave, the dishwasher, and a giant refrigerator that, despite taking up an entire wall of the kitchen, uses less energy than the personal refrigerators of yesterday's dorm rooms.
But as these 13 students will attest, living in Warren Green is about more than bragging rights to an impressive refrigerator.
"The most exciting thing about this house is the lifestyle commitment that we've all made to be here," says Justin Butler '10, who is the R.A. and a member of both the Sustainability Committee and the student group Sustainable SLC. "We're dedicated to cooking and eating together, supporting local food systems, conserving energy and water, and sharing this great resource with the community."
Micheal Rengers, the vice president of college operations, is equally as enthusiastic. He participated on the Warren Green subcommittee and has played a large role in the planning and implementation of the building’s renovations.
"This has been a real joint effort—the College is behind this just as much as the students are," he says. The first green renovation on campus, Warren Green is projected to be remarkably cost-effective, in both the short- and long-term. Says Rengers, "I'm really looking forward to seeing that first electric bill."
—Suzanne Guillette MFA ’05