It’s hard to pick up a newspaper or watch TV without reading or hearing a story about “sustainability.”
Sustainability is the commitment to maintaining the environment for future generations. It means being energy efficient, reducing solid waste production, and creating markets for environmentally responsible goods.
At a recent Leadership Coffee meeting, Terri Gehr, senior vice president for Business and Administrative Services, outlined some ways that Columbus State is currently addressing sustainability, and how the college can increase its efforts in the future.
Gehr noted that state law requires the college to create a 15-year master plan for energy efficiency by December 2008, and that construction of the Delaware Campus will adhere to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.
Some of the many initiatives the college currently has undertaken include our cardboard, plastic and paper recycling plan, which currently recycles two tons of paper a month; the recycling of hazardous waste-containing products such as fluorescent lamps and ballasts, solvents, batteries and computer components; planting of native, drought-resistant species to minimize irrigation on campus; and upgrading temperature control systems and mechanical systems in older buildings.
The IT department has many initiatives as well, including using “Energy Star” compliant devices where possible; using a shut-down program every night at 11:30 p.m. to turn off PCs left running; recycling print cartridges; consolidating UNIX environments and servers to reduce energy consump-tion and maintenance costs; and reusing everything from office furniture and furnishings to used scratch paper in the student labs and the ERC.
Many more initiatives are under consideration for the future or under development at this time, according to Gehr. Some of these include using the heat generated by large servers and network devices to heat buildings; enhancing work-from-home options to reduce the energy consumption of commuting; eliminating ink-jet printers on campus which use more ink and cost more for ink cartridges; recycling cell phones; and the purchase of electric or battery-powered lawn mowers and weed trimmers.
Gehr asked the attendees of the meeting to think about what more the campus can do “right now.” There are several things that the college and its employees can do to painlessly reduce consumption of non-renewable resources, she said.
Turning lights off when leaving offices or classrooms is an easy, but critically important step to save electricity. By reducing our building temperatures in winter one degree and increasing it in summer by the same measure can save 3 percent to 6 percent on energy consumption. Scheduling classes to consolidate them into limited numbers of buildings can also help reduce heating and cooling requirements. Purchasing hybrid (gas/ electric) vehicles for use by Public Safety and Physical Plant would greatly reduce gas consumption by the college. And finally, using double-sided copying and printing saves paper and trees.