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Sustainability Day at BSU

Jordan Shearer | Staff Writer | 10-28-2011

BSU recently celebrated sustainability day on campus. Students and faculty gathered into a Hagg-Sauer classroom to attend the webcast and open forum regarding ways that BSU and several other schools are taking part in the effort to “go green.”  The webcast included a slideshow with three different voice-over speakers including Alisa Johnson, Dean of Enrollment Management at Unity College; Kelly Boulton, Sustainability Coordinator at Allegheny College; and Frank Barros, Director of the Center for Sustainability at Berkshire school. 

The webcast discussed ways in which these schools are changing their methods in order to contribute more to the green movement.  For example, Johnson mentioned how Unity College has cut 25% of their recruiting travel over the past four years, therefore, lowering their carbon emissions.

They are also taking part in the “take back the tap” program, meaning that they do not hand out bottled water to people touring the campus.  Instead they are given a mug or a recyclable cup.  At Allegheny College,  there is a composting operation right on campus that saves the school $50,000 a year due to the fact that they no longer have to pay for expenses such as waste removal.

The schools are also using sustainability as a tool to attract prospective students.  In regards to this, Johnson said that at Unity College they try to find out what the students’ passions are and then link them back to sustainability.  The college has added two additional majors in the field since 2008.  These include Sustainable Energy Management and Sustainable Agriculture.

Speaking further about attracting prospective students, Boulton commented that at Allegheny College “Prospective students get really excited about the fun student engagement opportunities.” These opportunities are ways that students are able to get involved with sustainability outside of the classroom.

Following the webcast, faculty and students from the sustainability office at BSU presented a discussion panel.  They discussed the different ways in which BSU is involved in the green movement.  To begin with, there is a plan in motion to get a cold tub for the athletic department.  The idea for this came about when the sustainability office was approached by the head athletic trainer, William Crews, who said that “We waste over 200 gallons a day using cold packs for sports at BSU.”

The cold tub would be a nice solution to this problem since it recycles the water it uses.  Therefore, it can stretch 120 gallons over a four month period.  Also, the ice machine that is necessary to run the cold tub uses far less energy, so, according to Brandon Van Tassel,  “we’re saving the university approximately $5,000 a year on just energy costs alone.”

Another project that is in the works is known as ReRev. This would allow people to be able to add energy back onto the grid by hooking a device up to the elliptical machines when they work out. Erika Bailey-Johnson, with the sustainability office said, “It looks promising that we’re going to be pursuing this.”  However, at this time, it was still to be determined whether or not the Student Senate would allow some of the green fee to be used to pay for this project.

Although there were no definite dates given, it appears there is a possibility that the sale of bottled water could be banned from BSU, similar to the steps Unity College has taken.  The policy is still being worked on by student senate as well as by a couple of other organizations on campus, such as Students For the Environment.

This would be a ban on the sale of bottled water and not a ban on bottled water itself.  Therefore, students would be able to purchase it off campus and bring it on campus, if they chose.  It simply would not be available to be purchased at the C3 stores or given out by admissions during campus tours.  Currently, there are nine campuses throughout the nation that have banned the sale of bottled water, and two of them are within Minnesota.

The LK water bottle filling stations on campus are part of the effort to reduce the amount of bottled water used. They are drinking fountains where it is also possible to fill up a water bottle.  At the top of each station there is a small screen that tells how many bottles have been saved by people refilling, and, therefore, reusing. There are currently two of them on campus, but, according to Bailey-Johnson, “It looks like we’re going to be getting 5 or 6 more stations across campus this semester.”

She further mentioned that there are hopes of eventually having at least one in every building.  The hope is that by doing things like this, people’s habits will begin to change, and they will look for ways to be more responsible in their consumer decisions.