The next step in creating a more sustainable campus is as simple as shutting off a light.
Vice President for Business Affairs Gary Anna said a campus energy policy in is the works, and it is expected to be completed by the end of this school year.
“Sustainability is a process of perpetual refinement,” he said. “And this is just another step.”
The policy is more about maintaining what is already in place, Anna said, instead of implementing additional, major projects.
“Given our priorities at the university, I want to ensure we can continue with our sustained efforts,” he said. “We want to do what’s right for this campus and make sure we can show continuity.”
That means keeping up with initiatives like the recycling program, which recycled more than 175 tons of recyclable material in the last five years, with 80 tons in the last year alone.
“Even our recycling program started up two or three times, and with the help of the student sustainability group, we got more comfortable carrying out that program,” Anna said. “All of this is a community effort.”
The energy policy includes fixes like turning off computers when not in use, minimizing water waste and purchasing energy-efficient equipment whenever possible.
“We have also added more water bottle refill stations to buildings around campus,” Anna said. “Maybe refilling one time instead of using a disposable water bottle won’t make a huge impact, but after thousands of refills, that is significant. It adds up.”
Anna said the university has already begun looking into potential energy drains.
“We pulled some vending machines that weren’t being used a lot out of some buildings,” he said. “That’s good for economic costs, but also for energy conservation. That’s like pulling the plug on a refrigerator.”
Anna said students have strong opinions on green efforts, and each idea has to be considered carefully.
“Students are always outspoken about the issues they care about, and we have to prioritize,” he said. “Because certain things can become a cost rather than a cost-neutral undertaking.”
The energy policy isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, Anna said, but this time it focuses on a joint effort throughout the campus.
“What’s so unique about an energy conservation policy? We’ve done it before, but this is more embracing to the community,” he said. “It’s about stewardship and responsibility, also a commitment to sustainability.”