Tag Archives: #sustainablesmith

House Sustainability Challenge 2018

29 May

The House Sustainability Challenge culminated its first chapter with a final winner: the Drying Racks team (Yolanda Chigiji ’21, Julianne Borger ’21, Emma Krasky ’21, Sadie Wiese ’21, April Hopcroft ’21 and Sophie Guthrie ’21). Congratulations! This group presented a practical alternative to drying machines and made it available to everyone in their house (Morrow-Capen) on a trial basis. Here’s how it went- they displayed several prototypes made out of inexpensive, recycled materials, such as bamboo, to their house community and encouraged their creation through small workshops. As a back-up, in case a DIY drying rack was not within the skillset or comfort zone of students, they made sure to have some standard designs on each floor of the house. These racks were managed with a sign-out system so residents on each floor are aware of who was using which drying rack at any given time. In case of a lost or damaged frame, the person, whose details was on the sign-up sheet, was contacted and the situation was assessed. Through the use of portable racks, the students were able to reduce the number of dryers in use over their trial period by almost 200 cycles in both houses.

The House Sustainability Challenge, sponsored by Smith’s Conway Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Residential Life, CEEDS, the Office of Campus Sustainability, and The Design Thinking Initiative, held its final challenge on April 20th, allowing each group to present their proposals and pilot programs to the judges. The winning team was awarded $1,000 while the remaining finalists received $250 for their respective houses. The winning team’s design for a campus-wide drying-rack program will be implemented next semester.

The runner-up team projects were:

  • A proposal to reduce water consumption through shower-flow regulators in Comstock House (Katie Knowles ’19 and Karime Gutierrez ’20)

  • A project to increase the heating efficiency in Chase and Ziskind House by recording real-time room temperatures and creating a communication channel between students and Facilities Management to better regulate temperature (Yuqing Geng ’21 and Erika Melara ’20) 

The House Sustainability Challenge was developed as a way to encourage students to use their expertise as residents to help envision and design innovative ways of solving real life issues on campus in an environmentally sustainable manner. Design solutions must also be economically feasible and replicable across the residential houses.

-Erika Melara, CEEDS intern

Sustainability Challenge 2018 – Heat Efficiency

23 Apr

For this year’s House Sustainability Challenge (2017-2018), I teamed up with my classmate, Yuging Geng (’21), to design a project that could potentially increase the environment-friendly initiatives on campus. Living in Massachusetts, cold, winter-like makes up much of our academic year, making our heating systems a potential source both for energy savings and for improvement of personal comfort. Before moving to Ziskind, where I currently live, I was in Sessions House where my room felt significantly colder. However, closing my window disrupted my only source of fresh air, with the result that I often had to put on extra layers of clothes or purchase additional blankets to keep myself warm and comfortable. In Yuging’s house, Chase-Duckett, she noticed that her friends had variable temperatures in their rooms. For example, one of Yuging’s friends felt uncomfortable because it was too cold, while another friend’s room felt significantly warmer, sometimes even too warm. Based on these experiences, when the call went out for the Sustainability Challenge, we decided that students would benefit from a system in which they could view their dorm-room temperature so they could make better informed decisions about when to contact facilities to request a change in temperature.

We decided to wire in a breadboard, a temperature sensor (DS18B20), to Raspberry Pi 3 and code it, using Python, to collect temperature data and display it on a website (i.e. livestream). An additional benefit of using Raspberry Pi is that no changes in the infrastructure would need to be employed, as its performance mainly depends on Wi-Fi. Since we are both international students, we calculated the temperature in both Celsius and Fahrenheit. We envisioned this project as an early tool to raise awareness not only about campus heating systems, but also about the lack of ventilation during the summer. Take a look at our prototype website: https://melaraerika.wixsite.com/sustainchallenge for more info!

This year’s House Sustainability Challenge was sponsored by the Conway Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, the Design Thinking Initiative, the Office of Campus Sustainability, CEEDS, and the Office of Student Affairs.

-Erika Melara ’20 is a Scorpio who is happy that winter is finally fading away!

Earth Friendly Move-In Guide

23 Aug

A new year means a fresh start – for you and your environmental footprint! For many of us, coming to college is the first time we’re making completely independent decisions about our space set-up, laundry, what we buy, what we throw away, food choices, and our habits at home. Here are some ways that this transition can empower us to have a gentler impact on the environment…

Packing It All In: Getting your things where they need to go

  1. Pack fragile items by wrapping them in T-shirts or newspaper – skip those packing peanuts!
  2. If you’re taking a car, pack your items in reusable bins. You’ll be moving rooms and storing stuff a lot in college, so large, portable bins are a great investment. You can also pack clothing straight into trash bags and reuse those later!
  3. If you’ll want a power strip for plugging in many things, consider buying one with a switch or a timer, so you can make sure your electronics don’t use energy while you’re out and about.
  4. If you have a roommate, check to make sure you’re not bringing duplicates of things that could be shared!

Settling Down: On-campus tips

  1. Pick up a reusable water bottle at campus events – the first week has tons of free stuff, and buying bottled water is a waste of your precious cash.
  2. It’s easy to overbuy on room stuff and school supplies at the very beginning, but keep in mind that you can always get things later, once you more fully know what you’ll need.
  3. Ask your greeters, RA, or Eco Rep to show you where the dorm recycling is – to get any cardboard clutter away sooner rather than later!
  4. There are so many alternatives to paying big bucks for new textbooks: borrow from a housemate who has taken the class, rent from the bookstore or online, buy cheap used books online, use the textbooks on reserve at the library, or share with a classmate!

Forget-Me-Nots: Things to bring

  1. Check out Smith’s “Free and For Sale” facebook page for cool stuff from cool people – buying from other students is cheaper and prevents things like furniture and clothing from going in the trash. (Be sure to turn off notifications, or you’ll get 30 notifications daily) Another source of great clothes is your house’s Free Box! Anyone can add unwanted clothes or take nice finds!
  2. Buy green for your room: There are many environmentally friendly products at a reasonable price. Everything from shampoos to recycled school supplies! Lots of these items are available at the school bookstore or downtown.
  3. Skip the mini fridge – Personal fridges make up a significant portion of energy usage on campus. Every dorm has a full-size communal fridge! If you do need a mini one, consider sharing it with a friend you trust.
  4. Make/bring/buy/share a drying rack – laundry is expensive, (the dryer costs you $1.35-1.50! That’s a slice of pizza!) and dryers are huge energy monsters. It only takes a couple of hours for clothes to dry when you hang them up!
  5. Bring Tupperware – Smith’s dining halls are usually open for only 2½ hours for each meal- if you’re in a hurry or planning on staying up late, having Tupperware makes grabbing food much easier. And they help cut down food waste!

Once you are here, don’t forget to ask staff in Campus Sustainability about how you can get involved – they’ll have a lot of great ideas for how you can continue to green your time on campus. You can find them in CEEDS, in Wright Hall 005.

-Shelby Kim ’18 and Ellen Sulser ’18
Shelby: I will be a junior this year (how did that happen?!). Sociology major! I grew up in Los Angeles. My main interest right now: ways that making & sharing things can bring about communities that are more resilient and more fair. I will be leading a backpacking orientation group and can’t wait to meet the class of 2020!
Ellen: I’m a junior in Capen house from Saint Louis, Missouri. I’m studying environmental science and policy, reading too many books and attempting to crochet. I can’t wait to study abroad in China in the spring.