New grant boosts Agnes Scott green initiatives

Monday, January 11, 2010

ATLANTA — Momentum has been building behind Agnes Scott College’s numerous sustainability initiatives, and a new grant will greatly advance the college’s work in this field.

The college has received a $150,000 grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund to continue and expand its efforts to become a more sustainable campus. The grant will be used to fund several Agnes Scott projects designed to cut energy consumption on campus.

A portion of the grant will fund a cornerstone of Agnes Scott’s sustainability strategy—the Sustainability Fellow position. Because behavioral change is an integral part of reducing the college’s consumption, the Sustainability Fellow’s primary responsibility is changing attitudes and habits on campus, said Susan Kidd, director of sustainability at Agnes Scott. “Through the influence of a recent graduate in this position” said Kidd, “we greatly increase our ability to significantly reduce our energy consumption, thus shrinking our carbon footprint and saving the college’s valuable budget dollars.”

The Sustainability Fellow inspires and organizes students who play an active role in environmental issues on campus, creates programs and materials to educate incoming and continuing students about the college’s sustainability efforts and plans events of all kinds related to sustainability. The fellow also collaborates with the city of Decatur to improve sustainability throughout the community and works with various volunteers interested in sustainability.

The position, currently held by recent Agnes Scott grad Lies van Bekkum, is a key element of keeping the campus motivated and supportive of the college’s sustainability initiatives.

Another portion of the grant will be used to install real-time utility trackers in several residence halls. As students use electricity, water and gas in the building, a display placed in the lobby of each residence hall will track the consumption in real time.

The displays should inspire fierce competition among the buildings for the honor of being the greenest residence hall on campus, Kidd said.

“Other colleges have shown that competition does make a difference in energy conservation. We’d really like to inform the students so that they will see the need to compete against their neighboring buildings,” Kidd said. “It’s a great tool for behavioral change.”

Finally, the grant will also fund an energy audit that will provide a detailed assessment of the college’s energy use. With a better understanding of how much energy is being used and in what manner, the college can better plan its detailed strategy for energy consumption reduction, Kidd said.

The duPont grant is just the newest aspect of Agnes Scott’s growing stable of sustainability initiatives. Agnes Scott became the first college in Georgia to add a composting program to its residence halls in August. And this past fall, the college also completed a comprehensive, long-term Climate Action Plan, part of a commitment made with about 650 other colleges and universities all over the country to reduce their impact on the environment. Agnes Scott’s CAP outlines strategies and five-year targets designed to achieve “climate neutrality” in time for its 150th anniversary in 2039.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund makes grants to more than 330 eligible organizations identified by Mrs. duPont in her will. The fund has assets of more than $233 million and has awarded $280 million in grants since 1977.

Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location—offering myriad social, cultural and experiential learning opportunities. This highly selective liberal arts college is known for its diverse and dynamic intellectual community. Through SUMMIT, it provides every student, regardless of major, with an individualized course of study and co-curricular experiences that develop leadership abilities and understanding of complex global dynamics.