By Bryan Jackson, ‘12
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — Starting this year, half of Townhouse 23 was transformed into the picture of sustainable living, and after the “green” initiative’s first full semester, the results exceeded expectations.
The “green” townhouse apartments (which constitute the bottom floor of Townhouse 23) used, on average, 47 percent less electricity and 11 percent less natural gas than the control apartments, according to Go-Green Committee chairman Mike Hoffman.
“I figured they’d do better (than the control), but I had no idea how much better,” Hoffman said. “Anything I would have thought of would have been a guess … They did quite a bit better than I would have though particularly on electric.”
St. Bonaventure University’s Go-Green Committee, along with Student Life and Facilities contingents, selected the townhouse’s bottom four apartments as a “green” option for interested students. Hoffman explained that having students who were interested in the project living in the townhouse is the main component that makes the townhouse “green.”
He also highlighted building improvements made by the Facilities Department that contributed to the townhouse’s “green” designation.
“We (installed) some more energy efficient lighting, moved in some more energy efficient appliances and also put on devices to help us measure energy utilization,” Hoffman said.
In addition to measuring electricity and natural gas usage, the “green” townhouse also monitored how much was recycled.
Junior Sinead Coleman, one of the “green” townhouse’s 16 residents, explained that the apartments had their own locked recycle bin to ensure it was only their recycling being discarded and counted. During the fall semester, the residents recycled a total of 467.5 pounds.
While energy conservation may seem hard to some, Coleman said the transition into the “green” townhouse wasn’t much of a transition at all.
“It’s easy. There’s nothing different, in all honesty,” she said. “Growing up in my house we knew to recycle, we knew to turn the lights off.”
The sustainable practices of the townhouse’s residents paired with the energy efficient building upgrades didn’t just help the environment, they also helped save money. While Hoffman didn’t emphasize cost saving as a major goal of the “green” townhouse project, he did say the sustainability efforts during the fall 2010 semester saved approximately $880.
Hoffman said replicating, and improving upon, the “green” townhouse’s success will come down to generating more student interest and awareness for the project.
“We want to make the results better, and the way we do that is we get more students interested – we fill a townhouse with people of a like mind as opposed to half a townhouse,” he said.
Hoffman said that if the university is able to create an entire “green” townhouse, starting more “green” residences may be viable.
“Maybe we try to do the harder job and take a look at a floor in a residence hall … because (currently) if you’re a freshman interested in this project, you can’t participate,” he said.
“It’s food for thought. We’ll take it one step at a time. Our goal next fall is to fill a townhouse.”
About the University: Inspired for more than 150 years by the Franciscan values of individual dignity, community inclusiveness, and service, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. No wonder U.S. News and World Report has for years considered us a “Great School at a Great Price.”