Citizen Leadership and Social Issues Rotating Header Image

February 28th, 2014:

In Short

Longwood University has been using biomass to heat campus for 30 years.  In 2011 campus upgraded its boiler system to be more efficient.  Biomass is burned to heat the water and create steam to heat campus. Biomass is organic materials and at Longwood the biomass that is burned is pine tree sawdust and chips that are purchased from local saw mills.  This benefits the local economy as well as the local environment.  These chips and sawdust piles would otherwise be taken to a land fill if they were not able to be used elsewhere.

Longwood has gone to great lengths to reduce their carbon footprint and be as “green” as possible.  It is true that choosing to burn biomass to heat campus is far more efficient and inexpensive than burning coal or gas.  Burning biomass, however, has its own environmental impact that could be reduced if the proper steps are taken.  Burning wood releases carbon dioxide into the air.  Carbon Dioxide is the number one greenhouse gas that affects our planet.  Additionally, the number one reason carbon dioxide is released by humans is for electricity, which is why Longwood burns biomass on campus.

Carbon Dioxide is a part of nature.  Trees “breathe” in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen as they complete photosynthesis.  In an effort to continue Longwood University’s “green” movement, I propose that a green roof is installed on the roof of the dining hall.   Green roofs have many benefits including filtering rain water, insulating the buildings they are built on, and reducing the carbon dioxide in the air.  I propose the green roof primarily to help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air around campus, but also because of the additional benefits they bring.

The construction of a green roof would affect multiple people on campus.  First, the students at Longwood would benefit by reduced amounts of carbon dioxide in the air.  Second, the maintenance and staff of Longwood would be responsible for the maintenance of the green roof.  Fortunately, green roofs are fairly self-sufficient. Also, Longwood would have to fund the construction and be sure to access all required permits that would be necessary to build on a pre-existing roof.