Sustainability Efforts Ongoing
By Dee Harper
Maybe you’ve noticed them: the oddly cute electric hybrid GEM trucks quietly zooming about campus grounds, the recycling containers at special events like Barefoot on the Mall, or darkened vending machines due to disconnected energy-eating lamps. It’s all part of ECU’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
The initiatives are part of a “team effort between the Office of Facilities Management and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety,” said Bill Bagnell, vice chancellor of Campus Operations. Bagnell has partnered with Bill Koch, associate vice chancellor for Environmental Health, Safety, Parking and Transportation. The two are working to identify areas where ECU can increase sustainability in response to the UNC Tomorrow Commission’s system-wide push for environmental sustainability.
While the issue is a recent hot topic, Bagnell noted that ECU efforts in sustainability have been ongoing for several years. Bagnell, Koch and their staff are enthusiastic about the progress.
“The grounds crew recently installed three 5000-gallon cisterns to collect rainwater for irrigation purposes,” Bagnell said. The installations are at the grounds complex, the warehouse that houses housekeeping and mail services, and the west research campus.
Recently 40,000 outdated or worn books from Joyner Library were recycled into paper products. Recycling containers are now the norm in dormitories and are being used as a result of an expanded recycling and collection program to educate dorm residents. Two years ago, recycling containers had no place at campus special events, but now appear regularly at events like Barefoot on the Mall.
The move to electric cars and buses on campus has meant fuel reduction as well as environmentally healthier and safer vehicles.
ITCS now requires that computers, monitors and peripherals be turned off overnight. The Dining Hall has gone to a trayless system that, as Bagnell noted, “cuts water and electric usage and keeps kids from taking more food than they can eat.” That switch resulted in a 25 percent reduction in waste.
Energy efficiency and cost savings are behind the conversion of old fluorescent tubes to electronic and T-8 lights and the conversion of standard bulbs to LED bulbs in building exit signs. Bagnell said they are reviewing the possibility of LED lighting in all outside lights across campus, leading to longer bulb life and reduced energy consumption.
ECU also has a program to reduce energy use in high peak periods and save money.
“Our sustainability program is young by some standards, but we’re looking within our own resources to find ways to be environmentally friendly and to save energy,” Bagnell said. He added that ECU’s Student Government Association is creating a formal group to promote student involvement in sustainability efforts.
Bagnell has encouraged his staff to seek accredition in LEED, the Leadership in Energy Environmental Design Green Building Rating System, which establishes standards for environmentally sustainable construction. One staffer is already accredited and six others are working towards that goal.
“The biggest opportunity is in master planning, where sustainability is a core effort designed to bring new buildings up to standard moving forward,” Bagnell said.
ECU is making strides toward environmental sustainability, with many behind the scenes initiatives moving the university forward in that area. A list of sustainability efforts for 2008-2009 is available at http://www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/oehs/envmgmnt/Sustainability.cfm.