Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

Sustainability & ME: Looking forward to a sustainable year

Posted on April 30, 2018 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

By Aaron Witham, Assistant Director for Sustainable Programs and Chelsea Malacara, Sustainability Education & Outreach Coordinator

The Office of Sustainability is moving toward a more student-focused Surplus program in the fall. According to Assistant Director for Sustainable Programs, Aaron Witham, “The Surplus program has undergone significant changes this year for a variety of reasons, but the biggest reasons have been related to freeing up time and resources for USM staff to be able to serve students more efficiently and effectively.” Due to these changes, Witham explains that more lightweight items discarded by offices and residential students will be made available for free to students than they were in the past. For example, free shelves that currently exist in Bailey Hall on the Gorham campus and in Woodbury and Glickman on the Portland campus will be stocked more frequently. Items like monitors, mice and keyboards will be available in Gorham at a centrally-located Free Store. The inventory will consist of lightweight residence hall items and lightweight office supplies. The Free Store will be open to students, staff and faculty. Office of Sustainability Staff, Campus Life and the Space Committee are working on a location for the store now.

In an effort to encourage and support students to live more sustainably on and off campus, Chelsea Malacara, the Sustainability Education & Outreach Coordinator, along with USM Eco-Reps will be implementing more sustainability initiatives in the residence halls and around campus starting next school year. Malacara said that “this fall, students living in the residence halls can expect to see more options to live more sustainably including the availability of food waste recovery, less toxic homemade cleaning products and the option to attend more events and workshops.” While these programs will not be available to every resident, “our hope is to implement one pilot program in each residence hall throughout the 2018-2019 school year.”

The Office of Sustainability is also leading an effort to increase the comfort and energy efficiency of several residence halls and classroom buildings on the Portland and Gorham campuses. Dubbed “the ESCO project” by those involved, it aims to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent  from heat and electricity by the year 2025, to keep USM on track to reach its 2040 carbon neutrality goal. ESCO stands for Energy Service Company. USM aims to hire an ESCO to carry out the efficiency upgrades through what’s known as a performance contract. The funding mechanism involves an upfront capital investment from a third party financer, who will then be paid back in savings accrued from the implementation of the project. The project’s scope is still being determined, but actions will likely include heating and ventilation adjustments, light upgrades, boiler replacements and possibly more renewable energy installations. USM already has three solar systems, two geothermal systems and two biofuel systems carrying a portion of the University’s energy load. Witham says “we are on track to have an ESCO company hired by the fall and begin an investment-grade energy audit sometime in late fall.”

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