Environmental Science and Policy
Smith College’s undertaking to become carbon neutral by 2030 has led to a careful examination of our facilities, buildings, and the general way the college operates. We are starting to see ways to reach this goal by thinking outside the box. I chose to examine the amount of energy being expended in Smith College’s Olin Fitness Center and research ways to make the facility more sustainable. I found that the majority of the patrons (97%) are exercising while being entertained by at least one form of media (i.e. TVs attached to machines, iPods, magazines, etc.). The behavioral data I collected showed interesting trends in media usage that I then analyzed for energy consumption per media device and compared this with the energy requirements of the actual machines. This project inspired me to think about ways to change behavioral trends of the Olin Fitness Center patrons though educational projections and inexpensive “energy-saver” stickers. While I found many options for more energy efficient machines through either retrofitting what we already have or replacing with more sustainable models, I came to the conclusion that the only thing the college would be gaining is the so called “cool factor.” I believe that promise lies in implementing low-tech fixes to alter patron’s behaviors that may save the same amount of energy as would be saved if the machines were replaced. The recommendations based on my findings include educating on energy use of a traditional gym in addition to promoting exercise outdoors.
©2010 Collette Roy
Roy, Collette, "What Does Wilma Flintstone Have to Teach Smith College?" (2010). Class Project, Smith College, Northampton, MA.