Love Thy Dear Earth: Sustainable Housing Option Coming to Campus?

The College of Saint Rose. Photo by Jonas Miller

BY JONAS MILLER
Co-Executive Editor

Reducing the carbon footprint of Saint Rose will be priority number one for a small group of students in a new housing option on campus.
The Office of Residence Life and the Community Service office are partnering in an attempt to create Casa De La Earth Peace, a residence hall on campus focused on sustainable, earth-friendly living.

The hall will hold around 10 students who will work together to lessen the environmental impact of on-campus living.

Ken Scott, director of the community service office, hopes that the group of students who end up in the house can become leaders of sorts on campus, inspiring others to be more conscious of their impact on the environment.

Scott hopes students who participate will walk away with a richer collegiate experience. While he himself won’t be living in the house, the students will have the support of many on campus, including a resident assistant who is also committed to the cause.

“We would be guiding, advising and shepherding a group of students who are becoming leaders on this campus in terms of sustainable living,” Scott said.
The start of the “living-learning experience,” as Scott called it, will depend on the number of students who are interested, according to Jen Richardson, the director of residence life.

An application for those interested in living in the house was emailed out by Richardson to current resident students last Friday. Questions on the application included “what it means to you to be part of an intentional community” and what sustainable practices or opportunities the applicant is seeking in the new space.
Students also have to sign a contract agreeing to uphold the community and participate in service opportunities and community meals. Completed forms need to be brought to Residence Life at 204 Partridge Street no later than 4 p.m. on Friday, March 3.

In an interest meeting held last Wednesday attended by about a half dozen students, Scott explained the concept of the experience.

“The future of this planet is about living in a shared way,” Scott said. “We need to be about living together better.”

He brought up some of the issues that might arise in the house, such as agreeing on what to set the thermostat at, reducing water consumption, and most importantly, what else the residents of the house can do to reduce their carbon footprint. He also brought up the idea of shared meals, and some of the more minor details that would come along with cooking as a group.

“What’s the kitchen going to look like, what are we going to talk about at the table, how are we going to clean up?” Scott asked the the students in attendance.

President of the Environmental Club, Nick Maginnis, also attended the meeting to show support for the idea.

“We would give you as much support as you need,” Maginnis said. “You’re not going to be doing this alone.”

Maginnis and his e-board recently traveled with Scott to Ithaca to spend the night at Eco Village, a community focused on intentionality and sustainability. It was here that they felt empowered to do more in their own community.

Determined to found their own ‘neighborhood’ of sorts, Scott said whoever moves into the residence hall would need to share a common desire to be less of a consumer, and be more about living in a community friendlier to the earth.

In 2010, a similar idea was put into place. McCormick Hall on Western Avenue was converted into “sustainability-themed campus housing,” and ran as such for a full year. Students saw significant results caused by their cutbacks in terms of water and electricity usage. Instead of a resident assistant living in the house as they normally would, the group was monitored by an area coordinator.

Caroline Aurigemma doesn’t know where she’ll be living next year, but is keeping an open mind about the Earth Peace house.

Aurigemma currently lives in Centennial Hall, and often preaches to her roommates the importance of recycling.

“It doesn’t really take that much time,” Aurigemma said.

She thinks the hardest part about living in the sustainability house would be the sharing component.

“As young adults we don’t share that often,” she said. “I think it would be kind of a struggle.”

Having recently taken a road trip down south, Aurigemma said she was shocked by the lack of environmentally friendly opportunities both in homes and businesses.

Aurigemma named becoming more aware of her own carbon footprint and being able to set an example for other students as definite benefits to being a part of the Residence Hall.

“If there’s an outlet for the school it would be really helpful,” Aurigemma said. “I could definitely see myself living there.”

No official decision will be made on whether the project will move forward until student interest is determined, but the Chronicle will bring you more details as they are presented.

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