Ali Conerly, president, ECU ECO-Pirates: Welcome to beautiful East Carolina University, home of the Pirates. Here at ECU, our school colors are purple and gold, but it’s green that’s getting all the attention lately. ECU is committed to making our campus a more sustainable, and environmentally friendly place to learn, work, and live through initiatives focusing on water conservation, recycling, transportation, green building, and environmental advocacy. And we are doing these things for a simple reason—they make sense. So come with me. Let’s hop in the electric vehicle and take a tour of campus so you can see how East Carolina is ensuring that a green tomorrow starts here.
Griff Avin, director, ECU Facilities Services, Health Sciences Campus: ECU has a strong heritage as far as looking at sustainability both water and energy conservation. We’ve been making a lot of efforts in the past five years in particular to reduce our water consumption. In that period we’ve cut our water usage by 33 percent on an annual basis per square foot. We’ve got numerous projects that are in place currently. We are going through and installing low-flow aerators in all of our lavatories. Waterless urinals, low-flow toilets. We’ve put low-flow shower heads in our dormitories. We’ve got a lot of other exciting projects that we’re working on in regards to our utility plants. At ECU we’ve really got two major areas of water consumption on the campus. The first is our buildings and the second is our grounds.
John Gill, assistant director, ECU Facilities Services, Grounds Department: ECU grounds has installed three rain water cisterns throughout campus. They collect the rainwater off the roofs and stores it and when we need to water plants, trees, shrubs, we reuse that water. It’s amazing how quickly our cistern fill up. Just after a 15-minute rain 3/4ths of that 5,000 gallon rainwater cistern is filled up. And that’s water that would just go down the storm sewers. And we’re able to use that to keep our plants and vegetation alive and thriving. We also are using retention ponds, like the one behind us here at Lake Laupus as irrigation water. And by using the rainwater cistern and by using the retention ponds we have on campus, it is has greatly reduced the amount of use from the city. The whole perspective of water use and conservation has come to the forefront with the past two summers that we’ve had with the droughts. And I think from the very tip-top of the administration, that we are very committed to water conservation throughout the university.
Terry Little, ECU Recycling Coordinator: Recycling is very important to us here at ECU. We have a very small but dedicated recycling staff. We handle collection around campus throughout the entire university. We have collection points both outdoors and indoors on campus—literally thousands of collection points. We have a very comprehensive collection program here. Our in-house collection includes cardboard, commingled containers, paper, scrap metal, scrap wood, hardback books, among other things. We have other departments on campus that are dedicated to recycling also. Concrete, cooking grease, yard waste, electronics, batteries, just about anything that can be recycled is recycled here at ECU. Last year we sent 4.6 million pounds to our local landfills for solid waste. We are dissatisfied with that amount. We constantly strive to reduce that amount. On the other hand, we were able to recover 1.8 million pounds of recyclables last fiscal year. One important thing to understand about recycling is not only its environmental impact, but also the economic savings. Recycling is much more cost effective than turning things into solid waste. We actually receive monies for our recyclables, rather than spend money on tipping fees for solid waste. We have been successful in our steady moderate growth in the past several years. However, there is an opportunity for ECU to really make a difference in recycling. It would be very easy to get a 50% recycling rate if more people would participate. I encourage everyone to inform others of the importance of recycling and to participate in our program.
Jill Twark, University Environment Committee chair: The four main groups that advocate for environmental concerns on campus are the Environmental Health and Safety office, the University Environment committee, the Sustainability committee and the ECO pirates. Environmental advocacy is a very important part of East Carolina University. Protecting the environment is a grassroots effort. It needs to be a grassroots effort, because only if everyone on campus participates in sustainability initiatives can they work. The top down approach does not work because the behavior needs to be developed on an individual level. Every single person on campus needs to recycle. We all need to be recycling number 1 and 2 plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and paper of all kinds. Only if all of us are involved can we be successful. We’re lucky on ECU campus for instance to have the only masters degree in sustainable tourism in the entire nation. And we have courses that range from environmental literature to environmental health. So students can choose from a wide variety of courses if they would like to learn more about sustainability initiatives throughout the country, throughout the world, and also on campus. The Heritage Tree program was developed by the University Environment Committee in order to preserve landmark trees on campus. This campus has a lot of trees that were planted when campus was founded in 1907 and which have been planted since then. They fit in well with the architecture of the campus and they definitely are an integral part of campus so we should preserve them for future generations. The Environment committee proposed a resolution to protect heritage trees as well as green spaces on campus, and both of these resolutions passed last spring.
Erich Connell, assistant professor, Department of Construction Management: LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It’s a concept that was developed through an organization called the USGBC, that’s the United States Green Building Council, which measures different components within a building to help make it more sustainable. To employ LEED standards in buildings on ECU’s campus is really going to be a way for ECU to lead by example. It’s the way that a number of institutions are doing and ECU is part of that now. And what it is is it’s a responsible way of being and growing using energy and environmental design as the criteria. It essentially covers five areas energy, indoor environmental quality, water reduction, site planning and how you impact the site both locally and regionally, and lastly innovative design techniques. In fact we are standing in front of a future sit of a LEED silver building, which should be completed in 2011. And that’s going to make a big difference because this is a student-oriented building and they’ll going to learn not only what a LEED certified building does, there’s probably going be an educational element that helps them buy into this and perhaps LEED certified professionals themselves. One of the things we are doing at the university level is we’ve started one of the pilot programs nationwide, that’s twenty programs, called the USGBC Student Group, and that’s coming out of the Department of Construction Management, but it’s open to all students in the university, where we are going to be exposing students to all the initiatives that they can be involved in to help them grow into the future.
Wood Davidson, ECU Transit, general manager: ECU is committed to reducing automobile emissions and fuel consumption on campus in a variety of ways. First of all, with transit, we are looking at our routes on a per semester basis, checking efficiency, passenger numbers, looking to see if we can make changes so we if can reduce the number of service hours we are reducing our consumption. We operate approximately 50,000 hours annually, service hours, out on the street for the students. During that time period we carry about 2.5 million passengers annually, which puts us as one of the top ten transit systems in the state of North Carolina. And also across campus there is an initiative to use electric vehicles. For every one thousand miles traveled in an electric vehicle, ECU saves 100 gallons of gasoline, and it reduces greenhouse emissions by one ton. We have been mandated by a Senate bill to reduce our petroleum dependency by 20 percent by the year 2010. On an annual basis, ECU uses about 100,000 gallons of gasoline and about 220,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Since 2006, we’ve been fortunate enough to start using E10, which is a 10 percent blend of ethanol and gasoline. And we are using that in all of our gasoline vehicles. And in our diesel vehicles we use a product that’s called B20, which is 20 percent biodiesel. So we are displacing 20 percent of the actual petroleum diesel with a bio blend. I would encourage students to use the buses as often as they can when students are using the buses, then they are reducing automobile trips, reducing congestion, and it’s a green way to travel. And that goes for faculty and staff as well. The bus system at ECU is not just for students. Its open to faculty staff, visitors, and students can use the system. So my advice to students is if you want to be green, then you want to do it on transit.