Hartwick Launches Sustainability Innovation Grants Program

April 28, 2010

In January, the Pine Lake Institute for Environmental and Sustainability Studies launched a sustainability innovation grants program to increase green initiatives both on the main Hartwick College campus and at Pine Lake. The program was designed to give Hartwick community members an opportunity to encourage green living and learning within their individual campus environments. Several months later, proposals approved by the Energy Theme Committee included an energy-efficient kiln and improved landscaping at the College’s entrance.

“Students, faculty, and staff know the ins and outs of their buildings. They have wonderful ideas, but no funds to implement them,” said Brian Hagenbuch, Director of the Pine Lake Institute for Environmental and Sustainability Studies. “This program is going to reduce operating costs, improve aesthetics, and reduce our carbon footprint.”

“The seed for the idea came out of discussions in Energy theme meetings,” said Pine Lake Institute Program Coordinator Dan Morse ’97. “We brainstorm, bounce ideas off each other, and ideas for events and initiatives like the green grants program emerge. It’s definitely a pretty great working model. Everyone contributes, everyone can make suggestions, and we all work together to make things happen.”

Members of the Energy Committee include students; professors from the departments of Education, Economics, Biology and Geology; and staff members from the Center for Experiential and Integrative Learning.

“We only announced the program at the beginning of spring semester, and in the past couple months we’ve been able to approve three really great proposals,” Morse continued. “It’s been incredibly gratifying to see proposals come from all areas of the Hartwick community. Many of the proposals are collaborative, which is fantastic, since I think we as a community can do really great things when we work together.”

Through the cost-sharing proposal created by Assistant Professor of Art Stephanie Rozene and Molly Harper ’12, the grant provided funding for an energy-efficient kiln to replace a 40-year old kiln in the ceramics studio. The ceramics department paid for two-thirds of the cost with the remainder provided by the green grant program.

“When I saw the call for proposals for greening up campus, I thought of the kiln replacement program instantly,” said Rozene. “Over the course of the past two years, I have been slowly replacing the electric kilns in the ceramics studio. Older kilns use much more energy; they often have cracks in the insulation and use more electricity.

“The previous kiln cost approximately $43 to fire to only low temperatures. This kiln costs approximately $3 to fire to the same temperature as our older kiln. It also allows us to fire to higher temperatures for about the same amount of money, expanding the possibilities in the ceramics studio. This kiln will save the ceramics studio about $2,000 a year in energy costs alone and will have paid for itself within two years.”

Energy reduction and campus collaboration are some of the program’s goals. The green grants program also supports the use of local sources for project supplies. The kiln, which was purchased from Bailey Pottery Equipment in Kingston, NY, is one example.

“Instead of cutting the number of firings per semester to save energy and consequently limit the amount of work produced, we chose to keep the same number of firings, but fire more efficiently," Harper said. “A new kiln also will let less heat escape into the surrounding area. In a small room that doubles as the glass hot shop, retaining heat as much as possible is a big plus. Something as simple as thicker insulation in a kiln helps bring sustainability and energy awareness to campus without becoming an inconvenience to the community.”

Additional approved proposals are the conversion of annual flower beds to a perennial garden at the main campus entrance on West Street and replacing halogen bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps in Yager 321A. These proposals were designed by Associate Professor of Biology Peter Fauth and Deidre Cunningham ’80, and Associate Professor of Anthropology Jason Antrosio, respectively. The Energy Theme Committee also approved the addition of bamboo flooring in the Foreman Gallery Mezzanine. Foreman Gallery Exhibit Coordinator Nancy Golden created the proposal.

“Sustainability doesn’t have to start with a huge revamping of the campus,” Harper said. “Simple things like replacing a kiln or swapping out light bulbs in a classroom are small steps that work together to bring Hartwick to a larger goal of a more sustainable campus.”

By Alicia Walstad '10

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes a uniquely experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. A Three Year Bachelor’s Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Christopher Lott
Phone: 607-431-4030