Sustainability Best Practices

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Energy conservation, waste reduction and habitat restoration are three basic tenets that Bryn Mawr aims to continually improve upon. Below is an outline of the steps that have been taken to "green" our school in each of these areas.

Energy Conservation

With 25 buildings and more than 208,000 square feet of space to heat and cool, The Bryn Mawr School campus poses a daunting challenge for energy conservation. The Bryn Mawr Operations staff called in the BGE Smart Energy Program over Winter Break of 2010 and have since completed the following updates:

  • Campus-wide programmable thermostats
  • High efficiency heating boiler
  • High efficiency air conditioning unit for Lower School computer lab
  • Programmable time clocks for exterior lighting
  • Wall and ceiling occupancy/motion sensors for lighting
  • Upgrade to energy efficient lighting where necessary
  • Installation of water-efficient metered faucets

In 2010, our Lower School building was completely renovated. Efficiency improvements included:

  • Selection of heat-reflective roofing to reduce A/C demand
  • Energy efficient heating, cooling and ventilation employing heat recovery systems
  • Additional insulation of walls and roofs
  • Combined floor and air warming
  • Maximization of natural lighting to reduce lighting energy needs

Energy consumption in the Lower School for 2008 was 675,600kWh without air conditioning. Post-renovation usage was down to 570,500 kWh, with air conditioning, for a cost savings of $12,297.00.

Solid Waste Reduction

Bryn Mawr has taken several steps to reduce solid waste all across campus. Some of the initiatives used to do this are outlined below.

  • Ban the Bottle Campaign: In preparation for the removal of single-use water bottles from our cafeteria, the Upper School Students for Environmental Action club completed a survey of the water fountains on campus, including location, flow of water and taste. Based on the findings, two new water fountains were installed in the cafeteria that had bottle-filling capability. Over the years, as other water fountains have been replaced, this feature has consistently included. Two new units were also installed in the Hardy building that keep track of the number of bottles filled.

    To demonstrate to both students and faculty how much of a difference reusable water bottles can make in waste reducation, SEA students built a structure outside with chicken wire to display a week’s worth of the water bottles taken out of both the trash and the recycling containers to illustrate to the school community just how quickly these bottles add up. Today, students and faculty carry reusable bottles. In addition, plastic water bottles have been eliminated from vending machines, administration meetings and sporting events.
  • Composting: In February of 2010, we began composting our cafeteria food and paper waste with a company called Waste Neutral. Students, faculty and staff have become accustomed to the process of separating their food and paper, and trash. We also switched to paper plates and cups that can be composted.
  • Recycling: The Bryn Mawr School utilizes single stream recycling in all of the spaces on our campus. Utilizing large brown paper bags that are supplied by the city and supplemented by the school, we are now able to capture a much greater percentage of recyclables without increasing the labor needed by the Operations staff.

    Based on our current composting and recycling efforts, in one we were able to reduce the volume of trash destined for the landfill by nearly 50%, reflecting a savings of $4,536 given the reduction in the number and frequency of dumpster collections.

    Our Operations Manager has reported that paper towel usage has been reduced by 45% in the past two years due to the conversion of most of our bathrooms to hand blowers. This has not only reduced the quantity of paper used, but also the amount of paper going to the landfill. The offsetting additional cost in electricity is estimated to be $1.34 for 1,000 hand dryings.

Habitat Restoration

Bryn Mawr is fortunate to have a wooded buffer with a stream that runs along the east side of our campus. This area is protected and will not be developed. It provides many educational opportunities for environmental studies and waterway clean up events.

Invasive plant removal is also a priority. AP Environmental Science students, SEA members and Middle School students organize invasive clearing projects several times a year and plant native plants both around campus and within the wooded areas–especially in the wetlands areas adjacent to the stream.

The Operations staff, in conjunction with a landscape architect, recently conducted a survey of our campus plantings and created a master plan to guide our future plantings. The plan encourages perennials, natives and hybrids that require less irrigation and herbicide/pesticide use, as well as providing a better bird and insect habitat.

Finally, during the summer of 2011, our largest sports field was replaced with a turf field, eliminating the need for fertilizer and irrigation.

Fall Visiting Days

What is a Fall Visiting Day?
Bryn Mawr’s Fall Visiting Days are a great opportunity for you to see Bryn Mawr during a real school day and to meet and speak with the director of the academic division to which your daughter will apply. Register Now!