Sustainability at Hendrix

Green Initiatives at Hendrix

  • Environmental Studies major: This interdisciplinary major combines classes in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. The major requirements prepare students for graduate work in environmental studies or related fields.
  • Environmental classes: Ten departments offer classes with “green” emphases, from POLI 315 Environmental Policy and Management to ENGL 360 Creative Writing: Exploring Nature. This year’s offerings include:
ANTH 330 – Human Impact on Ancient Environment
BIOL 104 – Environmental Biology
CHEM 101 – Chemistry of the Environment
ECON 340 – Environmental Economics
ENGL 360/ SOCI 306 – Creative Writing: Exploring Nature
ENVT 497 – Environmental Studies: Senior Seminar
HIST 220 – American Environmental History
POLI 315 – Environmental Policy & Management
RELI 270 – Ecotheology: Religion, Animals & Earth
SOCI 340 – Food, Culture, and Nature
  • Green focus: Many classes without "Environment" in the name still focus on green issues. Students in POLI 260 Political Economy, for example, spend a few weeks discussing the “power down” movement. Several German language and culture classes cover the German attitude about the environment, including the popularity of the Green party and the sophisticated recycling initiatives the Germans have undertaken. Basic chemistry classes, many of which are taken by non-majors, teach environmental topics and green chemistry practices to instill a life-long “green ethic” in students.
  • Summer Semester in Costa Rica: Learning about the environment doesn’t stop for the summer. The Summer Semester has a distinct focus on sustainability. BIOL 105 Neotropical Biology focuses on conservation. SOCI 235 Nature, Culture, and Ecotourism in Costa Rica considers what “ecotourism” means, and how feasible it is. While in Costa Rica, students live in the Ecolodge San Luis, a field station with a heavy emphasis on sustainability. About half the students’ food was grown by farmers near the Ecolodge, or in the lodge’s own gardens and plantain grove.
  • Green chemistry: The Chemistry department focuses on designing chemical reactions to reduce or eliminate hazardous materials and wastes. Our chemistry curriculum is unique in the level to which it emphasizes pollution control and encourages future scientists to consider the environmental consequences of their science. Their motto: It is not what you do as a chemist, but how you do it.
  • Furthering green chem: There’s still a lot to discover about green chemistry, and Hendrix students are discovering it. Students are involved in faculty-sponsored green research, such as investigate organic solvent replacement technologies. Last summer, for example, students investigated the use of super-heated water as an effective, environmentally friendly alternative to non-renewable petrochemical solvents.
  • Environmental research: It’s a double-whammy—using green chemistry to research short-term solutions for global warming. This summer, two students will assist a chemistry professor in researching the possibility of injecting sulfur compounds into the atmosphere to create a cooling, reflective cloud, as happens naturally when volcanoes erupt. The Hendrix group will produce clusters of sulfur-containing molecules to see which ones have the desired reaction when exposed to ultraviolet light.
  • Green Odysseys: It’s not just the chemistry majors doing green research. Within the several years, there have been 18 “green” or environmentally-focused Odyssey projects. Here’s a sampling: 
    • A Comparative Look at Agribusiness and Organic Gardening in Ireland and the U.S. 
    • Tangier Island: A Philological and Economic Investigation
      Heal the Earth: Environmental Training and Awareness in New Zealand
      Dollars and Doulas: A Multi-Faceted Look at Life in Intentional Living Communities
  • Rent-a-bike: The Hendrix Bike Revolution bicycle collective program has hewn together a fleet of bikes for the Hendrix community to rent. That’s right: free, sustainable transportation. Parked outside the library, the bikes (and light-up, flashing wristbands, if you’re biking at night) are available for free check-out. The collective, which started in fall of 2006, also teaches students how to build and maintain their own bikes. The larger goals: spreading bike culture, teaching students how to go (or stay) car-less, and fostering a more bike-friendly community. Hendrix Bike Revolution is a student organization which operates a bicycle maintenance and repair shop on campus behind Buhler Hall where students can take their bikes for free repairs.
  • Learning Commons: The tutoring area in the library, known as the Learning Commons, allows many buildings that used to be used for tutoring to be closed in order to save energy late at night.
  • Save the Bees: When thousands of bees were found living in the roof of the chapel, Hendrix humanely – and painstakingly – saved and relocated the hive. Part of the chapel’s roof had to be dismantled, and from atop a 40-foot platform workers gently removed the honeycomb and scooped the bees – one handful at a time – into a swarm box. The bees were given to a philosophy professor who sponsors the Hendrix Beekeeping Society. A similar approach was taken a few years ago to relocate bats that nested in the attic of Martin Hall.
  • New HVAC Controls: The chapel received upgrades to the HVAC systems in order to better maintain temperature and increase efficiency.
  • Geothermal heating: The details are complex, but by digging 200-400 foot wells and constructing geothermal heating systems for each of the dorms, the campus’s heating and A/C became a lot more environmentally friendly.
  • The nitty-gritty: Hendrix uses low-temperature geothermal energy for both heating and cooling, which makes use of the stability of the earth’s inner temperature. In the summer, heat pumps extract the hotter air from the house so that it can be cooled in the earth. In the winter the outside air is colder than the ground temperature, so the heat pump can move the heat from the ground into the house or building.
    The bottom line: the new system uses less energy, doesn’t waste water, requires no natural gas, reduces the opportunity for a large Freon leak and requires less maintenance. Plus, it allows students more individual control over the temperature of their rooms.
  • Recycling: The Environmental Concerns Committee maintains Commingled recycling facilities in all Housing Units on campus, and Facilities employs a student worker to collect glass recycling.
  • Living green: The half-dozen residents of the EcoHouse, located a block away from campus, take sustainable living to a new level. They put their values into action by recycling, composting their food scraps, buying in bulk to reduce packaging waste and using cloth bags at the grocery store, rather than plastic or paper. In order to live in the house, students must propose a green project to work on throughout the year.
  • ECC dish loan: The Environmental Concerns Committee, a subcommittee of Student Senate, created a dish loan program several years ago. Rather than buying paper plates and plastic forks for on-campus events, organizations can borrow sets of reusable dishwater from Hendrix.edu/ECC
  • Organic garden: EcoHouse residents have taken charge of the college’s organic garden, which was started as an Odyssey project in early 2007. The garden is free of pesticides and petrochemical fertilizers, and the soil is enriched by compost made by the city from Conway’s yard waste. While the garden is not a main source of food for EcoHouse residents, it gives them – and other student gardeners – a feeling of deeper connection to the earth. 
  • A walkable community: The Village at Hendrix was built in the New Urbanism style with mixed-use development the way towns and neighborhoods used to be. The shops, restaurants and movie theater will be mixed in among residential buildings, all within easy walking distance of the college. The new development will implicitly encourage walking and biking.
  • Building green: The College and its developer, TNDP, are working to construct "green" buildings to the maximum extent possible. TNDP has previously implemented successful green builder programs that had little impact upon the cost of construction, and is working with builders in The Village to repeat those results.
  • Keeping trees: The new construction will require the removal of a grove of pine trees, which were planted years ago as a cash crop. Although many pines will be cut down to make space for the new development, the College is committed to preserving the healthy, viable hardwood trees in the area. Hendrix also plans to add hardwood trees to the new neighborhood and maintain green spaces, to preserve some of the open feeling of the pine forest.
  • Traffic Solutions: The streets at the northwest corner of campus meet in a roundabout, rather than a stoplight-controlled intersection. Instead of forcing dozens of cars to idle behind a red light, the roundabout keeps traffic flowing – shortening driving times and saving gas. Two more roundabouts direct traffic at other busy intersections on the perimeter of the college.
  • Electric Cars: Hendrix College placed its first electric cars into service on campus in November – vehicles that are an environmentally-friendly alternative to gas powered vehicles utilized for maintenance purposes throughout the campus. The college plans to eventually replace other gas-powered vehicles on campus with these silent, non-emission vehicles. The cars are Global Electric Motorcars, a Chrysler company that has been in operation for 10 years. The company calls its vehicles "a versatile and efficient way to get the job done, as well as a clean way to do everyday work.” The vehicles are characterized as “zero-emissions personal transportation that is well integrated with traditional alternative transportation choices such as mass transit and carpooling."