HEAG Begins Semester With Green Week

The Building Dashboard displays energy usage.
The Building Dashboard displays energy usage.
The Hamilton Environmental Action Group (HEAG), launched this semester's campaign to encourage sustainability and raise environmental awareness within the Hamilton community on September 21. The campaign, known as Green Week, was designed both to promote a sense of individual environmental responsibility and to educate students and faculty members to environmental problems on campus that have global implications.

Green Week consisted of five days of open events specially coordinated and sponsored by HEAG. On Monday, HEAG members organized and staffed a farmer’s market in front of Commons Dining Hall to encourage the practice of eating locally-grown foods. On Tuesday night, Christian A. Johnson Professor of Biology Ernest Williams presented a sustainability lecture in the Glen House.

On Wednesday, HEAG and the Coalition for Animal Rights Education (CARE) presented an evening showing of the documentary, Food Inc., in the Glen House. The documentary deals with the mechanization of the food industry and promotes eating locally, an idea that hits home on Hamilton’s campus, as Bon Appétit constantly strives to reduce its carbon impact with local purchases of food products.

A trivia poll was sent to all students via email on Thursday, where students who answered questions correctly were entered to win gift certificates to the Indian Café and Café Opus. Green Week closed out on Friday with an all-campus clean up. Individual groups of HEAG members and other community members set out to clean both the south and north sides of campus, as well as the Roger’s Glen.

Nat Duncan ‘12, co-president of HEAG, sees the organization as a way for environmentally conscious students to get involved and effect positive change on the campus. “I’d like to think that many of our initiatives have benefitted those who are members of our organization and the larger campus community,” he said.

Duncan is also pleased with Hamilton’s response to today’s environmental problems. Over the summer, Hamilton drafted a climate action plan that details how it plans to reduce its carbon footprint over the next several decades. Included in the plan is increased reliance on renewable energy sources such as the KJ windmill and Glen House solar panels, and reduction of energy usage by updating insulation in residence halls and academic buildings.

HEAG is not calling it quits with the completion of Green Week. It has established four committees (Community Outreach, Communication, Dining, and Special Events) with explicit goals for the rest of the academic year. The Community Outreach committee’s task is to bring HEAG’s message to the local community, while the Communication committee is striving to publicize HEAG’s actions, such as with a weekly article in The Spectator. The Dining committee is working with Bon Appétit to “green” dining halls and food production. The fourth committee, Special Events, works on coordinating events like Green Week and the “Do it in the Dark” campaign, beginning Oct. 1.

“Do it in the Dark” is an energy competition between residence halls, in which the winner will be the residence hall with the highest percentage decrease in energy use from the previous year. The winner will be determined at the end of October, and all students in the winning location will receive a 20-oz stainless steel “Do it in the Dark” water bottle.

HEAG is not looking to slow down any time in the near future. Duncan’s aim is that Hamilton and HEAG can act as positive examples to enact global change. “As in any community,” he explained, “our ongoing mission must be to ‘spread the word,’ to educate people, and to demonstrate the necessity for environmental protection on and off the hill.”

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