Amy Johns takes helm of Zilkha Center with expanded initiatives

Amy Johns has assumed the position of interim director of the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives while the former director, Stephanie Boyd, is taking a year of leave to study sustainability efforts in France. Johns plans on continuing already-existing sustainability initiatives, as well as furthering projects that are still in the works.

“My position as interim director basically entails doing most of everything that I did as assistant director, plus a lot of what [Boyd] did as director, so it’s a busy year for me,” Johns said.

Established in 2007, the Zilkha Center has been at the center of the College community’s effort to foster environmental awareness, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and raise energy efficiency.

As the new academic year begins, the Zilkha Center hopes to continue its various environmental initiatives from previous years as well as implement new efforts for sustainability in the Purple Valley.

The Zilkha Center expects to continue supporting student initiatives for sustainability and sparking interest in environmental awareness across campus, such as through its Do It in the Dark campaign, a month-long energy saving competition.

The Zilkha Center also expects Winter Blitz, a project started in 2008, to continue. The project involves 100 to 150 students working with a local charity to provide insulation, air sealing and weather stripping for households eligible for heating assistance.

Another initiative that may continue into this year is the installation of new energy-efficient Ladybug shower heads. The Ladybug devices, which conserve water and energy by stopping the flow of water once it is heated to a certain temperature, were installed last spring in Williams Hall.

“I’ll review the report submitted by the students who led the initiative as well as the student responses to it,” said Todd Holland, energy conservation project manager for the Zilkha Center. “I would really like to see it branch out, since it’s such an effective cost-cutting measure.” Holland added that new efficient shower heads have also been installed in College rental housing and the president’s house.

This year, the Zilkha Center will focus more on increasing energy efficiency around campus as well as reducing the College’s greenhouse emissions. As a part of the effort, new lighting for athletic facilities, including the pool, Towne Field House and Chandler Gym have been retrofit. The new lighting system is not only brighter and more efficient but also easier to turn on and off, thereby reducing the amount of energy wasted by leaving the lights on.

Another project implemented this year is the tracking of heat, electricity and water use by student residences through Portfolio Manager, an energy management tool linked to Energy Star. Energy Star is an EPA-Department of Energy joint initiative to reduce energy consumption and, based on the monitoring, residences with energy efficiency scores of 75 out of 100 are eligible for Energy Star Certification. According to data compiled by Bonnie Pham ’13 over the summer, seven residences (Currier, Doughty, Fayerweather, Milham, Agard, Lehman and East) have received scores of over 80.

Boyd is expected to return to campus this June. “She is studying sustainable food culture,” Holland said, “and what place is there better to do that than France?”