Think green!

As we approach the Sustainability poster competition, held during April – or “Earth Month” – I thought it would be appropriate to have a “green” blog post.  (Plus, even though I’m not Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is this coming weekend!)  

So, how can you adopt more environmentally friendly practices into your teaching and research?   There are several ways!   The most obvious, of course, is to save paper by instead making syllabi and other historically-printed materials available in electronic format in myWPI.   Next, have you considered the font that you are using?  Different fonts use more ink when printed, according to a study done in 2009 by the folks over at  Arial, my favorite, is not as efficient as other fonts.  Instead, you might consider Century Gothic, Ecofont, Times New Roman, Calibri, and Verdana instead.  When I learned this, I decided to make the switch from Arial – at least in my Outlook default font settings.  

When doing research or brainstorming, while messier, consider using chalk over a whiteboard.  Chalk, made of mostly calcium sulfate or calcium carbonate, is better for the environment than dry-erase markers which have a number of plastic components to them that cannot be recycled.  Most WPI classrooms still contain chalkboards so if you’re using chalk in your classroom, you’re already being more “green!”  (And to think, Kermit says it’s not easy.)   But here’s where the techie in me steps in as you might consider using digital annotation tools such as the Sympodiums and post your notes electronically for your students.  Lecture capturing is also a great resource for providing students with electronic access to your lecture notes.  By using the Sympodium and lecture capturing technologies, students can focus more on what you are saying because they know they will have access to the projected materials shortly after class ends for review, thus using less paper to jot down what was written on the chalkboards. 

What is the ATC doing in general to be more environmentally mindful?  For starters, in most of our newly equipped and/or renovated classroom spaces, we have programmed projectors to automatically turn off in the evenings after classes have ended for the day.  Not only are we saving the ATC in bulb-replacement costs, but we are also saving electricity since, prior to implementing these changes, a lot of the projection equipment inadvertently would get left on by the last person in the classroom in the evening.   IT, for years, has also been setting computers and monitors to go into sleep mode when idle in the classrooms to reduce the amount of energy used to power those machines.  

Changing your font and reconsidering how you provide students with access to your course material(s) doesn’t seem like much, but it sure can add up!

For more on WPI’s sustainability initiatives, I encourage you to visit this resource: