Commission on sustainability discuss changes

The Presidents Commission on Sustainability had their last meeting of the semester on April 19 to discuss changes since their last meeting and what plans were being implemented for the future.

The commission is one of three created by President Randy Dunn, which also include improvements to campus sustainability and student retention. It was organized to help with the formation of a campus-wide plan for increasing ways to make Murray State more environmentally friendly.

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

Members of the commission for sustainability include Dunn, Josh Jacobs, chief of staff, Wayne Harper, director of grounds and buildings services, students of the Murray Environmental Student Society and faculty members from the engineering and technology, biological sciences, agricultural sciences departments, along with other faculty and staff.

The participants identify major needs and topics of concern from various constituency groups engaged in campus sustainability efforts.

Propose policies, programs, practices and other responses to address identified needs and concerns and monitor implementation following adoption. They try to promote and retain issues of sustainability within the University while collaborating with campus organizations that have related goals and objectives.

Paula Amols, director of Dining Services, said new equipment, such as high-efficiency ovens will be installed in Winslow this summer.

“Hopefully as I get settled I can add to these contributions,” Amols said. “We are starting to replace some of the old equipment.

Winslow started trayless dining in the summer of 2010 and reduced food waste anywhere from 25-50 percent.

“It accomplishes a lot of things,” Amols said. “It’s good from the point of food waste and it helps from a health aspect. Students aren’t eating as much as much food since they don’t have room for it without the trays.”

She said the riddance of trays, which has reduced water usage, 5000 customers a day. Without washing thousands of trays, chemicals are being not being used as much which is better for the environment.

She said Dining Services is also working with the student operated Pullen Farm on the improvement of composting.

“They’ve been doing this for a while- collecting food scraps,” Amols said. “About 500-700 pounds of food a week goes to Pullen farm from dining services.

Amols said dining services is also re-training the staff on the separation of food in preparation to be turned into compost.

Tony Brannon, dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture, said some of the plans for the next two years are to establish a pilot on-farm demonstration unit of transferable equine waste and heat generation at the Hutson School of Agriculture.

“When you think of sustainability and agriculture and look at what he have you have to look at the macro version and the micro version,” Brannon said. “University sustainability efforts are many times very costly and part of planning.”

Other future plans include establishing a demonstration unit for various biomass energy crop densification and energy and heat generation at Hutson School of Agriculture.