By Dennis J. Neumann, Public Information Director, United Tribes Technical College (This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer and was originally published in the December/January 2013 edition of United Tribes News)
United Tribes Technical College used National Sustainability Day, October 24, to raise awareness and boost participation in the college’s recycling program. For a number of years campus departments have recycled paper and plastic under the leadership of a small but committed group of faculty members. Two years ago, interest in sustainability grew when United Tribes President David M. Gipp signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). The document outlines concerns about global climate change and offers methods for higher education institutions to model ways of minimizing the effects, showing leadership and integrating sustainability on campuses around the country. Institutions that sign-on commit their best efforts to pursue climate neutrality: By developing an institutional plan; initiating action to reduce greenhouse gases; and publicly reporting progress reports to the ACUPCC Reporting System.
Spearheading the United Tribes effort is the college’s Green Committee. An informal ‘green committee’ existed on the campus for many years; its dedicated volunteers primarily devoted their labor to campus beautification. Now ‘green’ has a different hue. It’s work is directed from within the Student and Campus Services division and the members are tasked with addressing the substantial challenges associated with the climate commitment. The campus-wide recycling drive is one of their initiatives and is aimed at lowering the campus carbon footprint.
UTTC’s campus-based population of 1,160 – including college students, staff, and youngsters – is of sufficient size that recycling requires organization and promotion. The October drive was promoted throughout campus with posters and electronic messages with the slogan: “Let’s Fill Our Bins to the Brim!” Participants were encouraged to begin using a regular system for collecting two, common recyclables: paper and plastic. The college would like to recycle as much as possible, including aluminum cans. Members of the Green Committee advised how to prepare and separate recyclables. They set up drop-off locations in main campus buildings where they placed recycling totes. And they invited the more engaged to take their recyclables directly to the large collection bins that were brightly painted with designs and words by youngsters from the college’s elementary school. The event also included a cook-out at the student union and presentations about campus sustainability and the work of the Green Committee.
Since United Tribes agreed to the climate commitment in 2010, sustainability has taken on new importance in policy and practice. But the challenges associated with incorporating “Green Energy” are considerable. UTTC is located on the site of a former military post. Most of the brick and wood-frame buildings, constructed between 1900 and 1908, are poor examples of energy efficiency. Over the past decade, all remodeling and new construction has incorporated modern efficiencies, like ground-source heating, energy efficient windows and passive solar design. Signing the commitment and establishing the Green Committee, with representation from departments throughout the campus, signals that green energy is a central part of the college administration’s long-term strategic plan to grow the student population and expand the campus with new buildings and infrastructure.
According to Curtis Maynard, Facility Manager, the college is committed to green standards. New campus construction and renovations are planned and built with the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED Silver standard as a guideline. The two most recent examples are a $1.1 million renovation and expansion of the college cafeteria and the $5.5 million construction of a science and technology building on the college’s new, south campus.
Green energy initiatives are moving forward on a number of fronts. The college has adopted an energy-efficient appliance policy, requiring the purchase of ENERGY STAR certified products that have that rating. Family student houses have received new appliances, along with new lighting and other energy efficient changes. A study is underway to compare the energy consumption of houses where retrofitted appliances are in service. Student tenants, and their family members, have been trained to identify good energy usage.
As the college upgrades its aging electrical service by changing-out overhead distribution lines to underground, new gas and electric metering is installed for individual buildings. Unfortunately, service to the original military fort did not include separate metering. Also being added are water meters. This will more closely identify consumption and costs. Staff and students in the college’s Tribal Environmental Science Program used a carbon calculator program to perform energy audits and that will help identify areas for improvement.
In terms of information and education, the college has hosted Sustainability Days and Earth Day observances. Guest experts have presented talks about energy efficient ideas and policies that can be incorporated on campus. The college has encouraged the use of public transportation; there is a city bus system stop a the college’s main entrance.
Clearly the Green Committee understands it has much work to do on sustainability. An important step just ahead is to file the college’s climate action plan with the ACUPCC by January 15, 2013. That planning work is underway now.
For more information about the United Tribes Green Committee and the college’s climate commitment, please contact Curtis Maynard, Facility Manager, S/CS, 701-255-3285 x 1638, firstname.lastname@example.org.