Do you think that colleges and universities will be more or less inclined to green their facilities in the wake of the recession?
I was reading about different ways colleges are trying to reduce their costs of operations and turned up some greener options being taken on, mostly as a way to save money. According to this New York Times story by Tamar Lewin, the savings are in some ways favoring the environment as well.
Here are a few highlights:
Most widespread, most proudly announced — and, it seems, most likely to have nicknames — are cost-cutting programs that help sustainability. Hundreds of colleges and universities are turning down their thermostats to save on heating, in programs like “Chill-Out” at Davidson College in North Carolina.
Cafeterias, too, are saving money, cutting food waste and reducing hot-water and detergent costs by eliminating trays. When Whittier began “Trayless Tuesdays” last fall, lunchtime food waste dropped to 4.6 ounces per student from 7.4 ounces — and the college saved almost $30,000 a semester after going fully trayless in the spring.
Less food wasted is a great thing! It’s carbon-intensive to produce, ship, keep cool, and cook food! And there are many hungry people in this world.
Many colleges are reducing their use of paper by putting admissions brochures, course catalogs and phone directories online instead of on paper.
Colleges are also installing low-flow shower heads and energy-saving light bulbs and holding contests to see which dorm can most reduce its electricity costs.
At Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., the contest resulted in almost $3,000 saved as students competed in turning off lights and unplugging chargers and printers. Students in participating dorms got 25 percent of the savings, $730, for pizza parties and other programs.
Davidson saved more than $10,000 by switching from bottled water to tap at most college events.
Many colleges are rebuilding computers instead of buying new ones, limiting the purchase and use of campus vehicles and scheduling more videoconferences and less travel.
So it doesn’t amount to saving us from global warming, but it shows that we all can take a few small steps toward improving our envirohuman impact. And you could save some serious money in the process!