The Truth Behind the Trash
Both Jewett and Purington heap praise on the man who oversees that department: Chuck Williams ’72, Director of Facilities, who they say for years has been reducing costs in ways that benefit the environment “not because it was fashionable,” Purington says, “but because it was the right thing to do.” Williams and his staff, for instance, have replaced over 1200 windows in the past six years with insulated, double-paned glass, and replaced the furnaces in 33 out of 44 houses with new Buderus boilers that are up to 97 percent efficient.
Williams has also taken full advantage of 30-to-50-percent subsidies offered by the school’s power company, replacing lighting in the hockey rink and pool, for instance, which cut the electrical demand there by almost half. He not only replaced the chillers at the hockey rink, but also figured out a way, for the cost of a thousand feet of pipe, to use those chillers year-round, more efficiently cooling the Dining Hall, the pool, Greer Store, and several offices. That, he said, “was big, big savings.” The result is that at the same time as Deerfield has increased its interior spaces by 110,000 square feet, it has also reduced its utility bills.
As Jewett points out, Chuck Williams’ efforts do more than save money and emissions: They create a model for students. Deerfield isn’t just preaching sustainability; it’s living it, thus teaching a kind of “new normal.” Students who live around photovoltaic solar panels, and who recycle, compost, and turn off their power strips at night, will hopefully go forth into the world and help make this the standard everywhere.
“One cool thing about a boarding school,” Jewett says, “is that we have access to these kids 16 hours each day. I want that time in the dorm to teach them something, too.” Jewett is a major promoter of the Green Cup Challenge, in which for one month all the dorms compete with each other and peer schools to reduce their electricity usage against a baseline, earning the winners dress-down days and feeds. Last year they battled Andover and beat them by a 7.8 percent reduction to Andover’s 3.6.
During the Green Cup Challenge, Jewett says, students can look at an online, near-real-time dashboard displaying their dorm’s electrical usage, so when they turn off lights in the common room, say, they can immediately see their load go down. Because a computer in sleep mode can still draw up to 75 watts, adding $100 per year to an electric bill, e-proctors encouraged everyone to unplug everything they could before going away for long weekends, to reduce “phantom loads.”
Chuck Williams says that the really big savings comes when you change the culture. During last year’s Green Cup Challenge, Deerfield’s students saved 7768 kilowatt-hours of electricity, about $1000 on the school’s electric bill, and prevented the release, according to Jewett, of “6.7 pounds of smog-forming NOX , 18.2 pounds of acid-rain forming SO2 , and 10,100 pounds of climate-warming CO2.” Best of all, Jewett says, many of them discovered that they could use as much as 50 percent less electricity without any major inconvenience.
And while he says “it’s easier to change light bulbs than to change behavior,” Jeff Jewett has changed a few light bulbs, too.
When Jewett’s dorm, Chapin, turned off their hall lights at night to save electricity during the Green Cup Challenge, someone pointed out to him the potential dangers of students stumbling down dark corridors at night. So Jewett installed LED nightlights that each used only one tenth of a watt of electricity, thus saving roughly seven kilowatt hours of electricity every night, as well as countless midnight face-plants. He’s now testing which nightlights to buy for all of the dorms.