Commission provides support for green initiatives

Chris Wilcox
Staff writer

President Randy Dunn’s Commission on Sustainability began in 2010 with the objective of improving campus sustainability and recycling efforts.

“The creation of the commission was to highlight the activity already occurring on campus and to further advance the issue of sustainability across campus and the community,” Josh Jacobs, chief of staff, said.

The mission statement of the commission is to provide information to the President in the form of a campus-wide plan for increasing sustainability, to propose policies and programs to create more sustainable efforts and promote these programs.

“The commission is an advisory body,” Jacobs said. “Its goal is to gather information about what is being done as far as sustainability across campus, many different units are doing a lot of great things and this commission brings those projects together.”

“The sustainability commission is looking at different ways to make the University more sustainable as a whole,” Don Robertson, vice president of student affairs, said.

Members of the commission include Dunn, Jacobs, Wayne Harper, director of grounds and buildings services, members of the Murray Environmental Student Society and faculty members from the science, engineering and technology, biological sciences, agricultural sciences departments as well as other faculty and staff.

The commission’s purpose is to back projects presented to them by the various “green” organizations across campus including MESS, Facilities Management and Dining Services.

“The commission’s goal is to focus on ways to initialize sustainability on campus,” Mike Gowen, professor of health sciences and human services and faculty adviser of MESS, said. “We have accomplished many efforts to increase sustainability.”

A few of the projects aided by the Commission include two Energy Savings Company (ESCO) projects, the Green Living Initiative, the employee bike loan program and the changes to food services and to Racer Routes.

The first ESCO project involved fluorescent lighting retrofits across campus and also included the installation of water-saving devices on faucets and toilets.

Kim Oatman, chief facilities officer, said at the Oct. 24 Commission on Sustainability meeting that because of the success made from the first ESCO project completed in 2006, Facilities Management was proposing a second ESCO plan.

The new ESCO proposal includes integrating building controls, replacing the steam distribution system, creating lighting retrofits, adding solar energy systems and upgrading the metering of all campus buildings.

The Green Living Initiative was initially established by MESS to educate students, faculty and staff in ways to reduce the consumption of materials across campus.

“We talked with the Residential College Council and put up fliers in all the residential colleges promoting the Green Living Project,” Matt Bartley, junior from Bowling Green, Ky., said. “The fliers had tips and facts on how to lower energy and water consumption.”

Another project recently established was the employee bike loan program, creating the opportunity for faculty and staff to participate in green commutes. The University is offering to loan 80 percent of the cost for a bike in an effort to be more sustainable, faculty and staff are allowed to pay back the loan over a set time period.

The changes to food services include working with the Pullen Farm Complex to become more sustainable as well changing what they purchase and compost in an effort to be greener.

The commission is partially responsible for the effort to recycle used motor oil and filters, tires, mineral spirits, antifreeze, batteries and Freon of all University vehicles including the Racer Route buses.

“Without this commission on Sustainability there wouldn’t have been a cohesive vision in which this University could move forward,” Gowen said. “With the Commission backing these programs more of them are becoming successful.”

Gowen said Facilities Management is now working toward Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design otherwise known as LEED-certified projects; these projects measure energy consumption carefully and also material usage.

Read stories on the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion and the President’s Commission on Retention.

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