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This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.
There’s a spectrum of possibilities for going green, and Bentley continues to spin the color wheel.
“Climate change affects everything and everyone,” says Amanda Navarroli, who leads the charge as manager of sustainability. “Combating climate change is about coming together to solve an environmental, economic and quality-of-life issue.”
Support for sustainability stretches across campus. In 2007, President Gloria Cordes Larson signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Among the initial efforts: calculating the university’s operational carbon footprint; creating a Sustainability Task Force of faculty, staff and students; and developing an institutional blueprint for climate action.
Navarroli joined Bentley in 2009. The former environmental consultant at Boston-based Environmental Resources Management brought along green ideas that fit the landscape, namely, reducing the amount of waste generated on campus and increasing energy efficiency. Her first focus was a “single-stream” recycling program.
“All recyclables can be placed together in any recycling receptacle on campus,” Navarroli says of the approach, which generated a 6.5 ton increase in the amount of recycled materials for the 2009-2010 academic year.
The success helped Bentley do well in a national 10-week competition called RecycleMania. The university placed second among participating Northeast-10 schools for both the Gorilla Prize (highest gross tonnage of recycled materials collected regardless of campus size) and the Per Capita Classic (highest amount of recycled materials collected per person).
A scientist by trade, Navarroli taps her creative side to rally others to the cause. One example is the Eco Rep program, developed in collaboration with the Residence Hall Association.
“We want students to become peer educators and leaders on sustainability,” she explains. “Giving them a seat at the table provides a unique learning opportunity, fostering a connection to issues that are real.”
The issues have a global spin for Cheryl Boyd ’10, former president of the Green Society student organization.
“Sustainable living has enormous benefits for people and businesses,” says Boyd, who earned a Corporate Finance and Accounting degree with a minor in Earth, Environment and Global Sustainability. “Learning how simple changes can provide so many benefits has made me passionate to share it with as many people as I can.”
In February 2010, she and fellow members of the Green Society organized a friendly competition to conserve electricity. The so-called Blackout Challenge saved enough wattage to power 5.3 homes for one year. Company sponsor Solar Wave Energy matched the savings in kilowatt hours (kWh) – 56,670 – with a monetary donation for earthquake relief in Haiti.
All told, Bentley saved 8 percent in electricity usage during FY 2010 versus the previous year. The credit goes to changes in individual behavior as well as constant tweaks of the energy management system, which ensures that buildings are running at their highest efficiencies. Examples include a solar wall installed at the Dana Center, estimated to save 116,000 kWh of energy per year.
“At the end of the day, it’s about raising the quality of living for everyone,” says Boyd. “Whether your goal is to preserve the earth for your grandchildren or simply to save money on your electric bill, sustainability really can benefit people across the world.”
Bentley was also named No. 1 for Highest Freshman Retention Rate, No. 3 for Most Innovative Schools and No. 4 for Best Undergraduate Teaching among the regional universities in the “2019 Best Colleges” report.