In 2012, Stonehill college President, the Rev. Mark T. Cregan, C.S.C., signed the St. Francis Pledge making Stonehill the 12th Catholic college in the United States to sign the St. Francis Pledge. The Pledge, initiated nationally by the Catholic Climate Covenant, is a commitment being made by Catholic individuals, families, parishes, organizations, institutions and universities around the country. It asks Catholics to live their faith by protecting God’s Creation and advocates on behalf of people in poverty who face the harshest impacts of global climate change.
Visit www.catholicclimatecovenant.org to learn more
By signing the pledge, Stonehill publicly commits itself to act on each of the St. Francis Pledge’s five elements:
- Pray and reflect on the duty to care for God’s Creation and protect the poor and vulnerable.
- Learn about and educate others on the causes and moral dimensions of climate change.
- Assess how we as individuals and in our families, parishes and other affiliations-contribute to climate change by our own energy use, consumption, waste, etc.
- Act to change our choices and behaviors to reduce the ways we contribute to climate change.
- Advocate for Catholic principles and priorities in climate change discussions and decisions, especially as they impact those who are poor and vulnerable.
Stonehill's commitment to the pledge is evident in projects ranging from a solar farm and water conservation contests to Zipcars and bike rentals. Many of these projects stemmed from student-led efforts as a growing number of student groups on campus are dedicated to addressing environmental concerns. They include the Activism Club, Students for Environmental Action (SEA), the Mindful Living Environmental Action Committee, ENACTUS (Enterprise, Action and Us), Food Truth, and more.
Some of the largest student-led initiatives have included food waste composting and an effort to phase out bottled water on campus. Stonehill now saves 600 pounds of compostable trash every week from ending up in landfills and also made a pledge to phase out the use of bottled water on campus.
The College has also introduced a Green Fund, in which $10,000 is committed annually for students to use toward environmental initiatives.
Stonehill has recently expanded its commitment to sustainability by joining AASHE and plans on participating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) survey, a product of AASHE.
Stonehill Hires Energy Manager
In August of 2012, the college hired its first energy manager, Jessa Gagne. Gagne's primary responsibility is to implement heating, cooling and lighting control strategies that maximize equipment efficiency, increase occupant comfort, and reduce utility consumption.
In the first several months in the position, Gagne spent much of her time analyzing and documenting the mechanical equipment in each building on campus. She determined that the biggest challenge impeding achieving energy conservation was the lack of a networked energy management system to control and monitor major mechanical equipment. As of the end of 2012, four buildings were equipped with building wide energy management systems, and two additional buildings had partial coverage. The remaining fifty-six buildings could only be locally controlled, which means a technician needs to directly access a piece of equipment in order to set operating schedules and temperature setpoints, and nothing monitors the equipment to ensure that it is working properly. With Stonehill's commitment toward sustainability and rising energy costs, efficiently operating equipment has both environmental and financial consequences. It is critical for the college to determine if buildings are operating efficiently as possible and if not, implement control systems and strategies.