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February 21st, 2014:

How “Green” Are We?


The problem that green roofs would alleviate on Longwood’s campus is the emission of carbon from the burning wood chips that are used to heat campus.  I have started researching how much carbon is released from the burners.  Longwood is allowed to burn 34,000 tons of sawdust per year. One ton of wood releases approximately 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide into the air.

A potential problem I see with relying on one green roof to reduce Longwood’s carbon footprint is that they plants that would be placed would not be evergreen trees.  Because of this they would either die or hibernate during the winter and their carbon dioxide intake would drastically reduce.  Winter is when Longwood uses most of the sawdust for heating residence buildings and classrooms.  During the summer electric air conditioning cools the buildings and the boilers are used mostly to heat the water supplied to campus.

One additional (possibly unintentional) result of burning sawdust to heat campus is that Longwood University dump trucks are sent to the logging facilities to collect the sawdust.  Then it is transferred to a storage facility that is 17.68 acres that Longwood cleared especially to store the sawdust.  Something about clearing nearly 18 acres of land to hold sawdust that is driven by dump trucks releasing diesel smoke into the air doesn’t sound very “green”.

Clearly, a green roof on Dorrill Dining hall will not totally remove the carbon footprint Longwood is leaving on our planet, but I do believe it could be a start.  Longwood has moved forward drastically in comparison to other universities in their “green movement” and the improvements are not to go without notice.  A green roof would be only be a step further into developing Longwood into a more green campus than it already is.