Babson College plans to install a wind turbine on the school's campus as a demonstration project, becoming the first college in the greater Boston area to utilize wind power through an on-campus installation. Babson joins the growing number of US colleges and universities that have chosen to develop their commitment to sustainable business practices through the use of renewable energy technologies.
Babson will install a residential-scale turbine, the Skystream 3.7 (1.8 kW), manufactured by Southwest Windpower. It is expected to be operational before the close of the spring 2008 semester. Based on production estimates and Babson's wind resource, the turbine will produce enough energy to supply roughly 60% of the annual energy needs at the school's entrepreneurship gallery after planned lighting renovations are completed within the space.
The college's decision to complete the installation was the result of a proposal spearheaded by a team of three graduate students (Rob Banagale-M'09, Jonah Eidus-M'09 and Clinton White-M'08) and introduced through the Babson Energy and Environmental Club (BEEC), a student-led organization at the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College.
"Managing the planet's resources sustainably and equitably is the greatest challenge we face today," stated Fritz Fleischmann, Dean of Faculty at Babson College. "Projects like this, and the innovative, entrepreneurial thinking it represents, are needed to create new business models, manage change in thought and behavior, and encourage others to participate in addressing this urgent challenge."
The project itself is a testament to the level of innovation and collaboration that Babson is known for and was created through extensive dialogue between students, alumni, faculty and administrators, according to BEEC Co-President Clinton White.
As a student led initiative, the project was introduced to the school's administration as means of promoting sustainability programs at the college in a manner that emboldens student innovation. To facilitate awareness, several placards will be located near the turbine and around campus to describe the project itself, recognize exceptionally innovative Babson graduates in the energy sector, and to communicate sustainability projects at Babson. Through collaboration between the college's facilities department and the BEEC, the installation site itself will also be utilized on an ongoing basis as a space to encourage visitors to support resource conservation and efficiency improvements as primary divers in limiting environmental impacts and operational costs.
The project will be funded in part though a $5,000 contribution that will be given to the college on behalf of the BEEC. These funds were raised by the club's membership over the past year through the organization's e-waste recycling campaign along with solicited contributions. "This truly has been a student driven project, representative of the incredible growth of interest in renewable technologies among current students," said White. "We should be proud of this great accomplishment and excited about being a part of an academic community that is so receptive to student input."
That student interest is manifesting itself on both ends of the MBA program. "Our Center for Career Development has seen an unprecedented spike in student interest in cleantech and environmentally focused careers," says Beth Bristol, Manager of Babson's full-time MBA program. "At the same time, our graduate Admissions Office is receiving a consistent flow of inquiries from prospective students looking to insure that Babson is in touch with this burgeoning business trend."
The turbine installation itself will build upon a successful history of green initiatives put in place by Babson's Facilities Management and Planning Office, led by Shelley Kaplan, Associate Vice President of Facilities Management & Planning. "The future of the world is heavily dependent on today's students understanding the environmental impact of all actions they take, so I have been especially pleased with the dedication, hard work, quality research and financial support the BEEC has provided in moving this wind turbine project forward. This project will be a source of sustainability education and awareness for many years to come," says Kaplan.
Other campus sustainability projects that have been completed or are currently ongoing at Babson include:
- More than $900,000 invested in capital projects with energy efficiency and carbon footprint benefits including efficiency retrofits and HVAC system renovations
- Dark Dorm competition and incentive program established to encourage energy conservation in residence halls
- Multiple rechargeable electric vehicles purchased for campus transportation
- Solar lighting installed on upper field walks
- Biodiesel recycling program created to convert all used cooking oil to biodiesel fuel for campus vehicles and lawnmowers
- E-waste recycling program instated to provide students with opportunities to dispose of old cell phones, PDAs, and printer cartridges in an environmentally friendly manner
- Campus standard for fluorescent lights moved from F32 to F28 lamps - energy reduction of 13%
- Electric power load shedding program established to reduce peak energy use
- Metering devices for building level energy and water systems installed
- Aggressive curtailment program established to reduce energy consumption during holiday break periods
- A recycling program that now recycles 40-45% of the campus waste stream.
In addition to the student generated turbine proposal, Babson students continue to gain attention for their abilities to think critically about sustainability concepts. Babson students shared over 22 unique cleantech and environmentally focused business proposals at the school's 2007 Rocket Pitch competition. Babson has also been singled out as one of eight international schools invited to participate in the $20,000 "Sustainability Business Plan Competition" sponsored by Wal-Mart.
The college plans to celebrate the installation of turbine during a public groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for the morning of March 27th, 2008 and in conjunction with the BEEC's second annual Entrepreneurial Energy Expo, a half-day conference focused on clean energy. More information about the wind turbine installation and the Energy and Environmental Club's Entrepreneurial Expo can be found at www.babsonenergy.com.