Having the tagline of “Earth, energy, environment,” research on the campus is often linked with sustainability. According to the Gregory Jackson, the department head for mechanical engineering, “If you look at our funding, a higher amount of it addresses these issues than at other schools.” Through sustainability research and efforts, there is hope for a number of improvements on campus.”
A team of engineers from the Mechanical Engineering Department are researching the idea of having a small power plant on campus. Jackson, who works on the team, stated, “We envision building our own power plant as our energy needs grow and then taking advantage of the waste heat from our own plant. We would need the plant to be clean and efficient which is why the idea of a solid oxide fuel cell is being developed. The cell takes the fuel energy and directly converts it into electricity with a little excess heat that we could use on campus directly.”
Jackson also explained that the school needs to become more closely tied to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the community of Golden. “We need to have stronger ties with the National Renewable Energy Lab. They could teach us how to look at the overall implications, not just the small parts that we tend to be trained to look at,” Jackson continued, “We need to partner with the Golden community. It’s a smaller community so we could make a real difference.”
Sustainability on college campuses is often best implemented through an environment that is centered on collaboration, research, and innovation—this is known as a living laboratory. Katherine Roberts, who is working on improving sustainability initiatives on campus, explained how “having the campus as a living laboratory so that students can participate in life cycle assessments on campus and can work with operations or building and planning” can improve student engagement.
Roberts described how the future of sustainability at Mines is up to the students, “The student body can play a huge role in this. This generation is so much more focused on the environment. Students could drive a lot of this if they made it known that this is something that they value and want to focus on.”