To help members of the Wesleyan community be more aware of their environmental impact, the College of the Environment is developing practical and accessible Eco-Tools.
The Eco-Tools prototype, launched in April, provides links and information to Wesleyan’s current projects, the Wesleyan Eco-Map and the Wesleyan Eco-Purchasing site.
“Wesleyan is the first university in the country to create these tools,” explains project coordinator Mary Alice Haddad, associate professor of government, East Asian studies and environmental studies. “The project is just starting to bloom, but once we get it up and operating, it can act as a model for other universities.”
The Wesleyan Eco-Map highlights changes in energy usage in different buildings on campus over time, based solely on changes in human behavior. The prototype currently tracks the monthly pollution index for all wood-framed housing on campus, and in time, may track heat and water usage for the entire university.
“The biggest drive for pollution is who’s living in it,” says Bill Nelligan, director of environmental health, safety and sustainability. “The Eco-Map will provide a real visual for students living in these homes to see their energy use month to month, year to year, and make them think, “How can I improve?'”
The map shows that residents residing at 1 Vine Street used almost twice as much energy (hence, creating twice as much pollution) during the months of December, January and February, as they did in March, April and May. So, students who reside in the home in 2012-13 can monitor their own energy usage on the site, and compare it to the energy use in 2011-12.
Of course, there are environmental factors to take into account. Some homes are heated with gas; others are electric. Some are 4,000 square feet, others are half that size. Some homes, such as 19 and 20 Fountain Avenue and 231 Pine Street were constructed in the past 10 years, while the majority of homes are from the 1900s. And the roof of 19 Fountain Avenue is topped with solar panels.
Wesleyan’s second Eco-Tool, Wesleyan Eco-Purchasing, offers members of the Wesleyan community detailed information about the environmental impacts of the information technology products in use on campus. The site promotes responsible purchasing decisions and encourages companies to act in more environmentally and socially responsible ways.
“I.T. companies and their suppliers are among the worst polluters,