In late November, Director of Operations and Finance, John Ferris, announced to the Proctor community he had just signed a contract with our utility company to purchase 100% renewable energy for the next three years. As Proctor continues to look critically at its environmental footprint, this strategic (and cost effective) decision has many on campus thinking about how we can continue to make economic decisions that mirror our environmental mission as a school.
We may not be able to be quite as a drastic in our approach as some
, but hope to remain a leader in integrating environmental practices into our institution, just as this schoo
l has. In an effort to do so, the 9th grade Earth Science class took advantage of a personal tour by Tom Mills, owner of the Flying Goose Brew Pub in New London, NH, which just launched a solar operation that came online in November. While up front costs were significant, Mills noted that over 20% of the start up costs were subsidized by available grants.
Students were able to observe the two solar systems running at the Flying Goose (one producing AC power and the other hot water), both used by the restaurant and brewery, and on days with abundant sunshine, used to sell electricity back to the grid. Mills' investment should begin to pay back in 7-10 years, but in the mean time has drastically reduced its carbon footprint.
While Proctor's standing as a non-profit organization prevents it from benefitting from all the same grants the Flying Goose Brew Pub obtained, actions by the school over the past four years have made a significant impact on reducing operating costs and have sparked further thoughts regarding how the school can continue to value, support, and even develop renewable energy projects on campus.
Through the actions of Environmental Coordinator Alan McIntyre and the student-led Proctor Environmental Action
group, student and faculty awareness of energy consumption within the school's physical plant have improved tremendously. As energy costs have consistently risen, efforts through the Green Dorm Challenge and Green Cup Challenge
encourage conservationism in day-to-day lives.
Institutionally, investment in a biomass plant to heat the majority of campus combined with four wood-heated dorms (Johnson, Summerfield, Davis, and Carriage Houses), and one geothermal heated dormitory (Peabody House) have drastically reduced reliance on fossil fuels.
Chuck Will has chronicled some of the major steps in Proctor's Environmental history, including the dedication of the biomass facility
, the proposal
of an Environmental Mission statement, and the banning of bottled water on campus
, providing historical context to the environmental evolution of our community. Many other decisions by various departments on campus are also making an impact on our quest for carbon neutrality. For example, self-powered eliptical machines and reSource energy generating stationary bikes (50w for every 30 minutes) in the fitness room and motion detectors for many lights around campus have reduced energy consumption substantially.
From the academic end, teachers continue to integrate environmental studies across curriculums, whether that be in Peter Southworth's Novels of Nature course through the English Department, studying environmental impacts of architecture in Brooks Bicknell's Architectural Design course, or in the plethora of science courses targeting environmental issues.
Throughout the remainder of the term, we will continue to revisit the integration of Proctor's Environmental Mission Statement in the classroom. Be sure to check back every Monday and Thursday after winter break for updates on the learning taking place at Proctor!