Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Many Ways to be "Spartan Green"

We are taking our annual fall trip back to East Lansing for a Michigan State Football game this weekend! I've been going to campus for events, classes, games, or to visit my Dad's office, since I was a baby. My amazing husband and I met, fell in love, and got married at Michigan State. MSU is part of my heart and soul. We bleed green and can’t wait to go back.

We have certain restaurants we have to go to (Lou & Harry’s), friends to visit with, and the Student Book Store to stop by to load up on new MSU gear (this year I'm in search of a dry-fit tank I can wear for the marathon). A large project my Dad has been working on for years is being dedicated on Friday and we get to go to the ceremony. It is also his Birthday so we're excited to be able to celebrate with him.

This year we are going back for the Homecoming Weekend and the theme is
“We’ve Always Been Green!” For several years now MSU has been working hard to be more ‘green’ than it already is (our colors are green and white). The administration has made a concentrated effort to reduce energy usage while increasing sustainability, conservation, and recycling efforts. They have asked students, faculty, and staff to participate. The most recent issue of the alumni magazine focuses on the sustainability efforts being put into practice and researched on an academic level.

MSU is a large school. There are 579 buildings, 5200 acres (I don’t think that includes land in other parts of the state), and approximately 58,000 students, staff, and faculty. Campus uses 1.3 billion gallons of water per year and operates over 2000 vehicles. Last year, several departments worked together to consolidate evening classes into fewer buildings in order to cut down on energy use. They determined that approximately 211 electrical megawatt hours fewer were consumed and the university saved $16,904.00. Not only did it save energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but it also saved money, which is extremely important.

This past summer MSU opened a new recycling facility which will have the ability to triple the amount of recycled materials from campus. They purchased 53 Ford Fusion Hybrids that get 41 miles per gallon in the city. The custodial department uses chemical free cleaners in the buildings. A Doctoral student created a way to use glass in cement. MSU Bikes rents and repairs bikes for students, faculty, and staff, while promoting an environmentally friendly way to get around the large campus. Back to Homecoming, the university is providing tips on how organizations can ‘green’ their parade float by using bikes or people to pull floats instead of trucks, use eco-friendly products to decorate, and purchasing local products or using items from the Surplus Store to reduce the carbon footprint.

Faculty members are also doing their part to research new techniques and alternatives to reduce our environmental impact. One professor has patented a way to reduce the production costs of processing gasoline. Others have determined a way to capitalize on unused land in areas of the state to grow crops to produce biofuels in an economically sustainable way.

This is just the beginning. The “Be Spartan Green” campaign focuses on the R’s: Reduce, Reuse/Recycle, Research/Reeducate, Redesign, and Rethink. It’s fantastic to see a world class University taking these forward thinking steps that take advantage of all the assets and talent they have available. Hopefully this is just one example of countless others like it. I can’t wait to get back there and celebrate Spartan Football with thousands of other Spartans this weekend!

No comments: