VIEWS: Sustainable Cooperative on Campus

Dispatch from SSC Intern Barbara Summers

Last school year I worked hard to develop a sustainable cooperative housing option for students at my school, Bucknell University. As I finish up my internship with SSC, I am also finishing the final plans and preparations for the pilot year for the sustainable cooperative, located in a small house/dorm on campus. There are 13 students who are dedicated enough to give up the normal college lifestyle and begin to live a more sustainable one. Unfortunately the house that we were provided with is very old and definitively not a very energy efficient or ‘green’ building. Because of the housing situation and a lack of funding, most of the environmentally friendly aspects of the cooperative are going to be purely lifestyle changes.

We are going to monitor electricity use and water use through meters, use CFL light bulbs, take short showers with the help of water timers, cut down on water use with low flow shower heads, use only environmentally friendly cleaning products, hang dry all clothes, and install rain barrels. We are also planning on buying local/organic foods when possible and cooking our own meals (dining services will allow us to buy local foods in bulk using our dining dollars), growing our own food in a backyard garden, and setting up a composting system. We are also working with several engineering professors who are doing research on green building products and hopefully we can provide them with a testing program for their products.

One of the goals of the cooperative is to educate and inform the rest of campus about green living practices. As this is only the pilot year for this program, we lack the funding to make major changes. Nevertheless, I am optimistic that the program will be successful and that it will garner more support from the university.