Last spring President Donna E. Shalala joined 283 other university presidents in signing a Climate Commitment to increase carbon neutrality on campus. The university also pledged to devise a plan for neutrality within 36 months of last spring’s signing.
The initiative, referred to as “Green U,” now includes testing soy-based bio-diesel fuel for the Hurry ‘Cane shuttles, which began Tuesday.
“The program is really not one event,” said Alan Fish, vice president of Business Services. “It’s every day everyone doing something to make the planet greener. It’s not printing paper. It’s Earth Alert, Sustainable U, Greenpeace doing what they do.”
Ken Capezzuto, director of Environmental Health and Safety, said the Green U initiative, which began in 2005, also has the goal of reducing gas emissions and increasing recycling on campus.
Megan Fast, president of Earth Alert, agrees with Capezzuto about the importance of expanding campus recycling.
“My freshman year, there was absolutely no recycling on campus,” Fast said. “Ken Capezzuto helped us a lot. It has increased a little bit, but it’s definitely not what we want it to be.”
At other universities, campus green campaigns go a lot further-sometimes starting before students arrive on campus.
At Harvard, students are encouraged to purchase energy-efficient refrigerators and compact florescent bulbs, which use 18 watts instead of 75, for their dorm rooms.
Other college campuses are constructing new buildings using solar arrays, which produce 30 percent more energy than the building consumes, and are serving food from local farmers to decrease the amount of energy used to transport food from other areas.
In addition to bio-diesel and recycling, the Green U campaign includes several other energy-saving programs.
For example, janitorial supplies now use 25 environmentally-friendly chemicals, as opposed to three such chemicals in 2005. Solar panels will be placed at all bus stops. Additionally, hybrid vehicles may park in metered spots for free, while drivers of hybrid vehicles may purchase parking passes at half-price.
The leaders of the Green U campaign are in touch with leaders of a similar initiative at the University of Florida. UF’s program has been in place for several years and student leaders may offer additional suggestions and greening ideas.
Capezzuto said it is important to remember that the program is still in its infancy.
“It’s only been a couple of years, and really, that first year we were evaluating,” he said. “We’re still in the growing stages, but I think we’ve come a long way.”
Hunter Umphrey may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.