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Assessing Your Greenness: a serendipitous stroll toward sustainability

May 5, 2010, 11:38 am

Last week a student walked
into the admin office with an idea. He was very excited and enthusiastic. He
suggested that we get rid of the paper towel dispensers and install the new quick
dry systems like they have in McDonalds. Apparently there are newer models that
are much improved over the older style. I’ve discovered that there is much debate on this topic.

 

The student and I talked for
a good 15 minutes: the environmental impact, workload, sanitation, noise,
costs, etc. It was good to go through the process. To me the conversation
wasn’t necessarily about hand dryers, but about brainstorming and encouraging
this student to ponder the outcomes. I’m not opposed to the idea but the two
concerns I have are the sanitation of the “activate” button, and the noise that
the machines might make in our quiet study zones.

 

All and all it was a good
talk. I told him I was exploring a “greening the library” initiative in the
near future and we left it at that. I took his name and intended to invite him
on that team.

 

The next day I ran into him
again. He was getting a drink of water and said hello. He had another idea
about switching our light bulbs. He quoted a manufacture and said that we’d
save a ton of money in the long run. I was on my way to a meeting so I told him
to email me the details and that I’d add it to the wish list. I also told him
that every time I see him from now on that I expect a new idea about improving
the library. He laughed and said he would try. He said he’d ask his friends
too.

 

The next morning he was
waiting outside my office. He had scrawled a list of additional
environmental ideas and was eager to share them. I told him to email them to
me. He said ok but that he was very busy with midterms. A few hours later this
list appeared in my inbox:

 

Library's current light bulbs
on the 2nd floor = Sylvia – Octron XPS ECO (32W) 3500 K Fo32|835

Low-Pressure
Sodium Lamps will give 3x more energy efficiency, as a secondary option White
LED lights should be looked into (a mere 2x more efficiency).

 

Flushless Urinals (can be seen
in PSYCH building)

Each
flushless urinal has been known to save $800
-$40,000 (best case scenario, [ball park
game]) per year!! 

 

HVAC system update -
"Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning"

~40%
of the energy budget goes to HVAC as of now.  Government programs are in
place to reward efficient HVAC systems.  These tax credit programs can be
found on the energy star webpage

 

Water Heater- Should have heat
traps and insulation installed

Tax
programs are in place to reward efficient water heater installation. 

 

Faucet flow rate

20-60%
saving on faucet use. (look for 0.5-1.5 gallons per minute flow rate)  The
water company may give out free faucet attachments!  Otherwise, they are
10-20 dollars at an home improvement store.

 

Cheap post consumer Toilet
paper

Marcal
has post consumer TP. Check here for a product idea click!
. There are also 60%
recycled material TP that can be used as a more cost saving alternative.

 

Efficient Windows- energy star tax program here

Energy
Saving Depends on Window surface area.  The 8th floor windows have a lot
of surface area.  If one stands by them for a while, one will feel the
energy
loss!  Tax programs in place to save you money when replacing
current window fixtures.

 

Solar Panels

30%
tax credit with no upper limit.  (ie if 100k are spent on panels, 30K will
be deducted from taxes).  No need to say how much money could be saved by
installing these.  These will pay for themselves, and soon the library may
be selling energy back to SCE.

 

He also shared this link: http://www.350.org/about

 

I thanked him and said that this bought him a few
weeks before I expected more ideas from him. I forwarded his email titled
“saving the world” to a co-chair of the UCSB Sustainability Team. This
person, a very busy Dean, wrote a nice response to the student and copied me on
it. He was thankful for the ideas and encouraged him to get involved with
campus efforts.

 

This note was passed along to the campus
sustainability coordinator who shared that they are planning to do
PACES
(Program for the Assessment and Certification for the Environment

a
nd Sustainability) in the Library next Fall. I’ve dabbled with a lot of assessment
tools and techniques and I’m very intrigued by this one. Here is a clip from
her email:

 

PACES works like a Green
Business Certification Program, but is designed for campus departments.
 We collect data on the use of resources in the buildings, attitudes and
knowledge of sustainability.  We learn about current programs in place,
and then we make recommendations for future improvement. PACES focuses on what
people who work and study in the building can do through their own choices (and
very little if any money.)

 

This is great. I can’t wait for the results. We
have a team here in the library that is very environmentally focused and I
intend to meet with them very soon and to really push some of the ideas more
broadly. We have the possibility of a renovation coming soon and it would be advantageous
to green the library in the process. I view the library as a platform (physically
and virtually) that draws in the attention of thousands of people each day— we
have a responsibility to do our part, but this also it weaves us into the story fabric of our campus.

 

Anyway. I thought that this was an interesting
chain of events that unfolded in a matter of days. The kernel of a simple idea has
led to a much lager possibility. That’s why I urge librarians not to view
patrons just as people who need our
help, but rather, as people who can help us out as well.

 
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