MacCARES works toward carbon-free college

By

Richard Graves ’06, president of the Macalester Conservation And Renewable Energy Sources (MacCARES), hopes to create “a blueprint for a carbon-free college,” through implementing his group’s goals on projects throughout campus. “What we’re doing is somewhat new. Oberlin and a few other schools have started on this path, but we’d still be a path breaker on this [issue],” Graves said. This year, MacCARES has worked on establishing plans for a green roof above the fishbowl connecting Turck and Doty dorms.

“It’s starting off as a small student project, but I think it’s going to be a blueprint for really changing how things are going to look on campus,” Graves said. “If this goes well, I think we could start talking about moving it to [other buildings].” MacCARES has also been developing ways to make bio-diesel with Caf Mac’s extra cooking oil and incorporate its use as emission-free, inexpensive fuel for college-owned vans. A green building student advisory committee is already in existence and plans for a composting site on campus are underway. MacCARES also helped revitalize the Campus Environmental Issues Committee (CEIC), a group that recently improved the environmental studies department. Also, MacCARES members feed their appetites with brownies and other environmentally friendly food items baked with a solar oven. Some small-scale energy conservation efforts have also been implemented. MacCARES has installed energy efficient light bulbs in the Kirk dorms and plan to get rid of unessential energy costs, for example, by turning off vending machine lights. In addition to these projects, MacCARES has talked to Facilities Management about turning down heating. “In the past, the dorms have been overheated, and the students would open the windows because it was fairly uncomfortable,” Graves said. Graves also hopes to create a green rollover fund that would grow over time as a source for energy conservation efforts on campus. “Interestingly enough, I think [money] is the easiest thing to get over.”

Although many of these projects may seem far-fetched, Graves believes conservation efforts should take priority.

“Conserving energy and reducing emissions, in the end, saves you money or makes you money,” he said. “This year, heating prices have gone up 50% this winter. It looks like we might spend almost a million dollars on heating…we’re going to go broke if we don’t [conserve energy].