Campus Winter Shutdown

To the Williams Community,

As all but our newest members know, the College has experimented in the past two years with closing the campus as much as possible over Winter Break to lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce utility costs.

With the cooperation of many across campus, Facilities staff have learned a lot over the past two years on how to regulate at lower levels our complex mechanical and electrical systems – enough so that last year’s shutdown reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 528 metric tonnes (2.7% of our annual figure). This certainly helps bring us closer to the goal of reducing our emissions to 10% below their 1990 levels by 2020.

At the same time, it’s proven challenging to implement the shutdown effectively in the Science Center, which has a complicated air-handling system and houses ongoing experiments and equipment that are sensitive to temperature. After consulting with the Faculty Steering Committee and with faculty and staff who’ve been most directly affected, we’ve decided to extend the experiment to a third year, in order to focus on how well we can control the temperature in the Science Center while accommodating its special requirements. To better understand these requirements, we’ll continue to consult with science faculty.

A committee will be formed soon to plan the details of this year’s shutdown, which will begin at the end of the day on December 22 and end in time to warm student residences for Jan. 1 and work areas for January 3. There will also again be a Web site for the sharing of news, questions, and concerns, and staff will again receive four extra days of paid holiday.

Thank you to those who’ve helped make this program so effective and to those for whom the shutdown creates challenges that you endure for the greater good. The College will do what it can to minimize those.

Further communication will come about the Web site and about how we can all pitch in.

Best wishes,
Adam Falk
President of the College