Baxter must be environment friendly

I’m excited! Right now, Williams is on the verge of making some tremendous decisions that will influence generations of future students. We have the opportunity to catapult ourselves into a leadership position in architectural and environmental design. With plans for a new theatre building, a new Baxter, and a new Stetson looming in the short-term horizon, we can physically transform our campus into a premier example of what conscientious, environmentally friendly institutions should be.

Right now, we are playing a bit of catch-up. Oberlin College has already built a phenomenally successful green building – the standard for all others, frankly – that has given the College pages of positive press. Tufts University has committed itself to meeting the emission levels of the Kyoto Protocol. Surely, we would like to emulate their honorable strides. But emulating is not leading! At the very least, we need to match these schools that are already breaking away from the pack. To do that requires action.

The best action we can take right now is to make the new Baxter our flagship building for the upcoming environmental movement. Symbolically, this would show how we students recognize the value of “treading lightly” on the Earth. Psychologically, deliberately making our student union our building of choice will help to keep us focused on our mission. Physically, actually seeing and living with a green building will enable us to realize that not only do green buildings work, but that they work now. While green buildings are the future, there is no good reason why they can’t be our present!

In addition, this action will attract future students to Williams who share our dedication to finding practical solutions to helping the environment. Also, how proud would Morty and our Economics department be, knowing we took lifetime cycle costs into account when we designed our new Baxter? We can design it to be so energy efficient that ten years down the road we could be making a profit on our energy consumption!

I’m tired of closed, industrial buildings like Mission and Prospect. I want welcoming, open, green buildings with sprawling windows to let daylight in. How many of us came to Williams in part from the sense of peace and tranquility our beautiful surroundings inspire within us? We can let our buildings match the beauty we’re surrounded by. With the right planning, we can prevent our buildings from harming the beauty we’re surrounded by.

We owe it to ourselves to make our new buildings ones we can be proud of. We owe it to ourselves take the right steps to become leaders in the environmental movement. We owe it to ourselves to take action rather than just rhetorically support the environment. We owe it to ourselves to make the utmost of the opportunity before us.

Brendan Docherty ’04

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