Student Report: DEC Lunch with the Dartmouth Sustainability Corps

On Thursday, October 17, four Dartmouth students presented a view of undergraduate involvement in energy initiatives on campus and beyond at the bi-weekly DEC pizza lunch. 

On Thursday, October 17, Dartmouth undergraduates, Tuck students, Thayer students, faculty, and other community members gathered for the fall term's third Dartmouth Energy Collaborative pizza lunch. These informal luncheons happen once every other week, and are free and open to the public. This particular session focused on undergraduate involvement in energy initiatives on and off campus. 

Campus Energy Initiatives

Sustainability Office Energy Interns Hannah McGrath '21 and Brandon Holmes '19 kicked off the event with a presentation about energy systems at the College. According to McGrath, Dartmouth's energy system has remained fundamentally unchanged since the 1920s, but with the launch of the Dartmouth Green Energy Project —commissioned in 2017 by College President Phil Hanlon '77— Dartmouth hopes to become a model for institutional sustainability. 

According to Holmes, one of Hanlon's motivations for commissioning the Green Energy Project was that Dartmouth's total emissions per student are currently highest in our peer group of schools. This is in part due to Dartmouth's rural location. However, the College's absolute emissions have declined about 10% since 2011, and Dartmouth is on track for 50% of its energy to come from solar by 2025. 

Two major elements of the Dartmouth Green Energy Project are the construction of biomass plant, and a turn away from #6 oil, which Dartmouth has relied heavily upon in the past.  

McGrath and Holmes concluded their segment of the event by discussing some of the budget of the Dartmouth Green Energy Project, and recommended listeners get in touch with Director of Sustainability Rosi Kerr to learn more. 

Touring Renewable Energy Sites in Denmark

The second segment consisted of Camilo Toruno '20 and Hannah McGrath '21 presented on their experience on the Dartmouth/Town of Hanover trip to Denmark. On the trip, Tornu and McGrath learned about Danish renewable energy and biomass infrastructure. As Denmark has been a leader in sustainable energy since the 1970s, the students and community members who went on the trip hoped to gain inspiration for how to revolutionize energy systems on campus and beyond. 

While on the trip, participants toured an offshore wind farm, in which the public gets the first opportunity to invest. This means that the citizens of Denmark are able to profit from sustainable infrastructure, which can give the community a more sizable stake in combating the climate crisis. 

Participants also learned about the complexities of biomass generation and got to see examples of affordable public housing communities. 

McGrath emphasized how impactful it was to see the scale at which Denmark has embraced biking as a primary mode of transportation, and implemented creative solutions to bike traffic and storage. She found Denmark's embrace of bike's inspiring, and potentially capable of being implemented here on campus.

Toruno shared that having returned from the Denmark trip he feels more qualified to contribute to conversations about sustainability on campus. Moreover, he feels that he gained valuable career insights and built meaningful relationships with individuals in the town of Hanover. 

Both student groups emphasized their delight at the opportunity to participate in energy work on campus. They encouraged other members of the DEC to continue the conversation, and reach out should they have any questions or comments. 

Join us for an upcoming DEC lunch by registering here.