By Jessica Nothnagle, ‘11
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — It isn’t uncommon to hear St. Bonaventure students say they bleed brown, but now some are bleeding green. This academic year, St. Bonaventure University has turned half of Townhouse 23 “green.” The four eco-friendly apartments house 16 students who voluntarily chose to live there.
The Go-Green Committee, chaired by executive director of Technology Services Mike Hoffman, worked with the Student Life and Facilities divisions to organize the green townhouse and make the living option available to students. Their primary goals are to practice sustainable living, measure the impacts of their sustainable living and encourage others to practice sustainable living.
Sr. Suzanne Kush, C.S.S.F., chair of the Sustainability Coordinating Committee and director of the Franciscan Center for Social Concern, hopes that students will see the townhouse as a viable living option and St. Bonaventure can become a more sustainable campus. She says that it will take a conscious effort, but hopes that the campus community can develop a way of living that improves the quality of life.
To practice sustainable living, the students agree to make multiple sustainable choices. These choices include walking or biking to class instead of driving, recycling and turning off utilities when not in use. They also compost and bring their compost weekly to Canticle Farm, a non-profit Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm located in Allegany.
On top of that, the facilities have also had improvements. The appliances have been made Energy Star compliant wherever possible, motion-detection lights have been installed in key locations, and low-flow shower heads have been installed.
In order to measure the impact of their sustainable living, a separate recycling container with a lock has been installed specifically for the green apartments only. The students are also benchmarking their electric consumption and using sensors to measure how often their furnaces are used. Their results will be compared to a “control group,” or a non-green townhouse, to test how much of an impact their sustainable living makes.
Sinead Coleman, a junior biology major in the dual admission pharmacy program from Windsor, Conn., is one of the 16 students living in the green townhouse. She says she and her roommates recycle almost 60 percent of everything they use, which highly reduces the amount of trash they have. She also says all four women in her apartment refuse to purchase plastic water bottles. Instead, they always use a Brita filter or drink water straight from the tap.
“Honestly, there have been no sacrifices that we can think of,” said Coleman. She says it would have been more of a sacrifice for her to live in a non-green townhouse because seeing things thrown in the trash, lights on unnecessarily, the amount of food waste, etc., would have made her upset.
The first tangible indication that efforts in the “green” townhouse were paying off came when electric usage proved to be 81 percent more efficient in September than in the “control” townhouse. The “green” unit used only 1,440 kilowatt hours, compared to 2,608 KW hours in the “control” unit.
The “green townhouse” also recycled 202.5 lbs. of glass, metals, plastic and paper.