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On the Environment

Monday, April 08, 2013
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Mike Thompson Receives Environmental Stewardship Award

By Guest Author, YCELP Staff

Mike K. Thompson is brightening the halls of Yale Law School, quite literally. The associate dean recently launched, with the help of David Barillari, YLS ’15, a pilot program to replace incandescent lighting in the school’s dining hall and auditorium with dimmable LEDs, which are actually brighter than the 100-watt tungsten bulbs currently in use.

While almost all of the lights at the law school are now compact fluorescents (CFLs), the dining hall and auditorium still use the energy-intensive tungsten bulbs. But manufacturers have recently released LEDs capable of replacing them, and Thomspon and Barillari are testing samples to see which ones will best meet the school’s needs.

Thompson also installed the law school’s first Brita hydration system to help reduce the use of single-use plastic bottles. In 2011 – the last year for which statistics are available – total bottled water sales in the US reached 9.1 billion gallons, or 29.2 gallons per capita, which translates into roughly 220 half-liter bottles for every person in the country. 

Leaving questions of bottled water safetyand expense aside, the recycling rate for PET, the plastic commonly used in water bottles, is only 29 percent. The Brita system, according to company statistics, can replace as many as 36,000 half-liter, single-use bottles every year.

Or, considering the 220-bottle-per-person statistic, the Brita could offset bottled water use for 163 people annually – nearly the entire YLS class of 2015.

“The Brita makes it a lot easier for students to avoid buying bottled water and do their small part to make the law school more sustainable,” said Halley Epstein, YLS ’14.

Dean Thompson recently received the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy’s Environmental Stewardship Award in recognition of these new initiatives and for his leadership in forging new frontiers in sustainability at the school.

“Everyone who spends time at YLS knows that Dean Thompson is the heart and soul of the place,” said Doug Kysar, Joseph M. Field ’55 Professor of Law at YLS. “He is keenly aware of the impacts of everything we do here – on students, on the community, and on the environment – and he works tirelessly to ensure that those impacts are positive and enduring.”

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