Keene State College and the wider Keene community have been making strides towards greater sustainability.
Recently, two business in Keene were awarded with the Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Business Certification. The Monadnock Food Co-op and Keene family YMCA were also awarded this certification. In addition to the two business having won the certification, Keene State College and the City of Keene had also won their corresponding certifications prior.
General manager of The Monadnock Food Co-op Michael Faber said the food co-op won the award for their work installing bike racks and incentivizing their staff to ride bikes to work. “There is definitely room for improvement for Keene’s sustainability as a whole, but that there are positive steps being taken, including composting,” Faber said.
According to Henry Underwood, GIS Specialist for the Southwest Region Planning committee, which provides staffing for Monadnock Alliance for Sustainable Transportation (MAST), MAST was a driving force in getting the business its certifications. On Feb. 4, MAST held its annual meeting where initiatives like installing lights on trails and providing better biking routes to school were discussed, said Underwood.
One program at Keene State that helped the college obtain the bicycling certification is the Green Bikes Program. Run by Marcus McCarroll since 2005, bikes are rented to students for free. The program started out with only about a dozen bikes and was run simply by students and other community members. Then in 2005, McCarroll took charge and has been collecting and fixing bikes since. Mccarroll estimated the current total of bikes to be around 445 and the number of students that rent bikes per semester to be around 800 to 1,000. Additionally, Mccarroll has now started renting bike locks for ten dollars which circumvents the requirement of needing to buy a bike lock to rent bikes. McCarroll is planning to expand the program in the future with a new bike repair shop on campus.
In 2017, Keene State was one of nine post-secondary schools to be certified as a Department of Education Green Ribbon school. The New Hampshire Department of Education defines Green Ribbons schools as schools that are exemplary in reducing environmental impact and cost.
In 2018, KSC President Melinda Treadwell announced a slew of new energy saving goals to be accomplished by set dates. Many of them were given timeframes that extend far into the future; however, many of them were also set to be accomplished by 2020. One of these goals was to have a completely renewable heat plant by 2020. Coordinator of Energy and Administrative Services at Keene State Diana Duffy said that this has already been accomplished by using vegetable oil at the heat plant. Another goal was to reduce water use by twenty percent. “We are gonna need help with that,” said Duffy, “We’ve done a ton already, we have low flow toilets throughout campus. We have aerators in our sinks and our showers, that our own plumbers have done over the years.”
Duffy is currently working on an energy services contract with a firm that would help Keene State with its energy efficiencies. According to Duffy, this would involve fixes like putting in more occupancy sensors that connect to lighting and improving the steam system.
Teddy Tauscher can be contacted at