After months of collaboration and preparation, a school-wide initiative was announced to the Middlesex community during a February morning Assembly. Referred to as “Sustainability,” the endeavor has a definitive and ambitious goal: to reduce the School’s carbon footprint by 20 to 30% over the next three years.
As Chief Operating Officer Matt Crozier explained, the bulk of this reduction can be achieved by changing the School’s heating fuel from lower grade oil to natural gas – a cleaner, more efficient, and less expensive alternative. An engineering analysis is currently being completed to help the School choose the best way to make this conversion, which will likely begin within the next year. Other energy options, such as solar panels, are also being investigated as additional sources of power on campus.
Reducing the amount of electricity Middlesex consumes will also lead to a smaller carbon footprint. To this end, Mr. Crozier said that more efficient lights installed in the Cage have already made a difference in the School’s electrical usage, and similar changes will be made in other large facilities, such as the hockey rink, the theatre, and the art studios. The School is also working with EnerNoc to place meters on more individual buildings and to install power management devices that can monitor and regulate electrical usage, turning off lights and large appliances (like air conditioners) when they are not needed. Students and adults on campus are being asked to do their part, too, by being more conscientious about shutting off lights, computers, and charging devices when they are not needed.
Another aspect of “sustainability” concerns the School’s food supply and the energy required to grow, harvest, and transport it to campus. To see if the community can successfully manage to produce some of its own food, a large garden plot has been designated on campus, and a local farmer is assisting several students and faculty members with initial cultivation and soil preparation for a single-vegetable crop this spring.
And although water usage may not be considered in carbon footprint calculations, the School will also try to reduce its usage of this resource. When students return from spring vacation, a competition will be held for the month of April to see which dormitory can use the lowest number of gallons per person during that time span. The stakes could be as high as a dorm outing to a Red Sox game for the conservation champions.
Sustainability was officially launched at the end of Assembly with the distribution of t-shirts made especially for the event. Now it’s up to everyone on campus to “think globally and act locally” to reduce Middlesex’s environmental impact on the planet.