Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tangible Actions

The Lasell College Environmental Sustainability Committee met again today. We had some very interesting discussion regarding campus recycling. We also made a decision on the tangible actions we want to implement as part of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment.

The discussion regarding single stream vs. dual stream recycling was very interesting. It was pointed out that a single stream system would probably increase recycling rates, decrease costs, and be easier to implement. This makes it seem straightforward. However if the entire life cycle analysis is considered, the dual stream system may be the better choice for the environment as the quality of the product from the plant may be higher. But then again the dual stream system may require more truck trips to campus. After debating the merits of both systems the committee acknowledged that whichever system we choose we need to launch a major education campaign. Our next meeting will focus on creating a campaign that we will launch at the start of the spring semester. It is going to be huge so watch out!

It was a very productive meeting as we were also able to come to a consensus on which two tangible actions steps we will implement as part of the ACUPCC. In signing the ACUPCC, President Alexander agreed Lasell would commit to at least two short term greenhouse reduction actions. We decided Lasell College will:
-Adopt an energy-efficient appliance purchasing policy requiring purchase of ENERGY STAR certified products in all areas for which such ratings exist.
-Participate in the Waste Minimization component of the national RecycleMania competition, and adopt 3 or more associated measures to reduce waste.

Again the discussion was very interesting. We seriously considered choosing an action to adopt a new construction policy requiring that new buildings meet at least LEED silver standards. Although we chose two other action items we may look closely at LEED standards during the spring semester. To make an informed decision we would need a representative from the green building industry to educate the committee on the standards and the associated costs and benefits.

I'm excited about the two action steps we have adopted. I really like the RecycleMania because it engages students. Professor Sarikas brought up a great point about the importance of waste minimization. Whether a material is in the garbage or in the recycling bin it is still waste. We can do a lot more to try and minimize our waste and participating in RecycleMania will provide a fun arena to make improvements.

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