Sometimes a project is all about collaboration and timing. Both came together this year to produce a new sustainability map that showcases Plymouth State’s impressive list of green credentials.
Environmental planning major Ted McLaughlin ’22 not only had classes with Professor Brian Eisenhauer, but also worked with him on his Sustainability Capstone project. So, when McLaughlin was searching for an internship in his final semester, he asked his longtime professor if he needed help in the Office of Sustainability, which Eisenhauer directs.
“I was looking for an internship where I could do something within the Plymouth State community,” says McLaughlin.
Eisenhauer had been interested in getting a sustainability map of Plymouth State off the ground for almost five years but hadn’t found the right technology and needed assistance. McLaughlin was adept in geographic information system (GIS) databases that can analyze and display data, which is just what Eisenhauer was looking for. Using Google’s My Maps app, McLaughlin could help turn the data that would be collected into an interactive map.
Together with a handful of other students, it took the pair about six months to gather all the information that is now displayed on the Office of Environmental Sustainability website.
The map’s valuable information includes where to find recycling and water bottle filling stations, the new Nissan Leaf vehicle-to-grid charging station and other electric vehicle chargers, and buildings with rooftop solar panels. Clicking on a feature provides stories, photos, and detailed information.
“Some of the hard sustainability work we’ve done on campus isn’t always obvious; a lot involves things ‘behind the walls,’” Eisenhauer says. “The information on this map keeps track of it all.”
“As a student, I see a lot of interest in the map,” said Isabelle Schena ’24, an environmental science and policy major who also worked on the project. “I did a poll on Instagram on recycling and sustainability on campus and 80 percent of the responses were about recycling. Many students didn’t think we had recycling bins on campus.”
McLaughlin sees the need for the map, too. “I sat at a table during an Earth Day event and many students were surprised that we had a new solar array at the PE Center.”
Schena has also used the map when she needed to locate certain things on campus for a class, which is among the many types of research that Eisenhauer hoped the map would aid.
The map has been live since the end of August so only a small percentage of students, staff, and faculty have discovered it to date, but hits and clicks will undoubtedly increase as Eisenhauer talks to classes about its many uses.
Eisenhauer notes that the map’s value will only increase as new green and sustainability initiatives make their way onto campus.