Massachusetts Maritime Academy is being recognized again for its efforts to create a sustainable campus, but this time the school needs the public’s help to garner a top award.
In January, the school was named a finalist in Climate Leadership Awards given out by Second Nature, a Boston nonprofit that works to make colleges and universities more environmentally responsible.
Though Second Nature officials will pick the leadership award winners this spring, part of the competition pits competitors’ videos against one another, with the public picking the winner. Voting begins Monday.
The program recognizes the sustainability efforts of universities and colleges that have signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. The document challenges schools to set a date to be totally carbon neutral.
“It means we’re making really large leaps into different territory in a very traditional industry,” said Kathy Driscoll, the school’s environmental health, safety and sustainability officer. “It’s teaching a full, broad spectrum of what can be done environmentally, and showing that it can be done.”
Massachusetts Maritime Academy officials hope to be carbon-neutral by 2046, its 150th anniversary, Driscoll said.
The award “looks not only at the stuff we think about, like wind and solar” but also how the school handles wastewater and transportation, said school vice president of operations Fran McDonald.
The maritime campus has long been recognized for its green efforts, which include a 650-kilowatt wind turbine that produces about 20 percent of the campus’s energy, around 80 kilowatts of photovoltaic cells and two buildings – a dormitory and the American Bureau of Shipping Information Commons – that have U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.
The school has also made other changes, such as reducing solid-waste processing costs by about 30 percent over the past six years despite a 30-percent growth in students, Driscoll said.
But school officials believe their campus is also a “living laboratory” where cadets interact with the surrounding environment on a daily basis, McDonald said.
That’s what is featured in the school’s video for Second Nature. For example, students work on the “bioswale” at the commons, a landscape element that helps process stormwater runoff; take classes in environmental problems and sustainable engineering; and have dealt with regulations for waste management at sea during the annual “sea term” on board the T.S. Kennedy, McDonald said.
“We’re teaching them the problems from the past and how to fix them for the future,” Driscoll said.
Article written by: Heather Wysocki
April 1, 2013