Dartmouth and Hanover pledge renewable energy goals

by Megan Clyne | 8/13/17 11:05pm

This article was featured in the 2017 Freshman Issue.

The College and Hanover community set significant goals to transition towards renewable energy sources this past year. Director of sustainability Rosi Kerr ’98 said that the College continues to emphasize a strong focus on sustainability efforts and impact.

Earlier this spring, Hanover residents voted overwhelmingly to join the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign, passing an article to set the goal for transitioning the town’s heat and transportation to run on renewable resources by 2050 and all of the town’s electricity to renewable energy by 2030. The verbal vote at the town meeting established Hanover as the first town in the state of New Hampshire and the 29th municipality in the nation to set these goals.

A few weeks prior, the College’s Sustainability Task Force, a group created by College President Phil Hanlon consisting of students and professors, released its inaugural report, which aimed to direct the College towards more sustainable practices and to set objectives. The guide also recommended that the College obtain 50 percent of campus energy from renewable sources by 2025 and 100 percent by 2050. Aside from these recent goals, over the past 10 years the College has undertaken initiatives to improve several of the six main categories as they relate to sustainability, Kerr said. These categories include energy, water, waste, food, landscape, ecology and transportation. Catherine Rocchi ’19 said this report is a sign of the College committing to eliminate its carbon footprint.

Kerr said that in terms of energy, the College has invested in a considerable gain in energy efficiency to reduce greenhouse gas emission. Even as the College adds more square feet to its campus by incorporating new buildings, she added, it has worked to lessen the energy Dartmouth uses by improving the efficiency of both old and new structures on campus.

Rocchi added that the recently established Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society at the College is a major advancement in promoting an environmentally conscious campus at the College. The creation of the Irving Institute, named in honor of Irving Oil and the Irving family foundation for their donation, was announced late 2016 and was founded with the goal of consolidating interdisciplinary resources at the College to solve the world’s most pressing energy problems.

In terms of food sustainability, the College is currently exploring how to make waste systems more efficient and has enacted plans to drastically reduce waste, Kerr said. Dartmouth also encourages students to become involved with sustainability efforts.

Endeavors like the “Green2Go” food take-out program, which replaces the Class of 1953 Commons’ disposable take-out containers with reusable ones, form part of the student-initiated responses to curb excessive waste and plastic use. As part of this effort, a student thought of an innovative idea, researched it and then implemented her plan into a successful pilot project.

Dartmouth’s rigorous academic endeavors and resources prepare them to contribute to climate change mitigation and to progress sustainability in the future, Rocchi said. The environmental science, earth science and geography departments afford undergraduates the opportunity to explore climate change and preventive measures through a diverse selection of courses and research opportunities.

The hope is that freshmen will advocate for change in areas they believe have a lack of growth, Rocchi added, because change is the result of students who are unsatisfied with current initiatives and actively seek growth and advancement.

As sustainability is a growing field that attracts a cohort of talented, dedicated students, the College has provided many structured ways for students to get involved on campus, Kerr said.

The sustainability office at the College has a program for freshmen to become ECO Reps and learn about sustainability. The opportunity allows freshmen to undertake a project in an area of sustainability of their choosing.

There are also project-based programs, Kerr said. She added that the enthusiasm for projects was so striking, that the College implemented project-based programs in order to provide students with a solid foundation to enact meaningful, sustainable change.

There are also a number of green groups and hubs on campus, including the club Divest Dartmouth and the Dartmouth Organic Farm.

“I encourage freshmen to look at Dartmouth with a critical eye in terms of sustainability,” Rocchi said.

Hanover town manager Julia Griffin identified next steps for the future of sustainability at the College.

“Next stop is moving much more comprehensively to using renewable sources of energy and we are excited to hitch Hanover to their star,” Griffin wrote in an email.