CU/Green on building upkeep, construction

CU/Green: Things Cedarville University should consider doing in order to be good stewards of the Earth.

A prefab modular home. Flickr photo from Heather Lucille. CC.

A prefab modular home. Flickr photo from Heather Lucille. CC.

Regular building maintenance

  • Get ideas from LEED and other certification standards when purchasing new parts for buildings. (Read on for alternatives to LEED)
  • Commission the engineering department to do a study on “green roofs.” Can our roof strctures support a few inches of soil and a bunch of plant life? It does wonders for water filtration and insulation.
  • Mandate that all new paints be free of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). That stuff is nasty — with high enough exposure to the right VOC’s (particularly for the painters), it can give you cancer and make your liver stop working.

Heating/cooling/insulation

  • install geothermal heating and cooling systems. If they pay off in 15 years or less, they’re a good investment because they last much, much longer.
  • have a weatherization inventory taken of all existing buildings. Supposedly this cost and the cost of actual weatherization is recouped very soon, as it tends to produce savings of about 30 percent on annual heating/cooling bills thereafter. Maybe this could be done before geothermal wells are installed, since their number could be lessened.
  • Commission the engineering department to do a study: If we removed the tint from the windows on campus, how much more thermal intake would the buildings have in winter? What could we do to increase thermal mass that could be heated by the sun during the day and keep buildings warm at night?

Future building projects

  • make a very serious effort on the next building project to engineer a building that is, if not LEED-certified, at least comes with lots of features of those that are. Now, you can be green without having LEED (as our newest building, to a certain extent, testifies to). But you can also have LEED while not truly doing well for the environment, as this article will tell you. So beware! (If you want additional resources on alternatives to LEED, the article there links to a few good ones.)

CU/Green on clothing and consumer goods

CU/Green: Things Cedarville University should consider doing in order to be good stewards of the Earth.

Flickr photo from stevevance. CC.

Flickr photo from stevevance. CC.

Clothing

  • Encourage the CU community to buy second-hand. Not only will we reduce new-item consumption and decrease clothing in landfills, but we will decrease the demand for sweatshop labor and possibly stop caring as much about the latest “fashions.” Yes, we have to look good for employers (so buy one Brooks Brothers or Express suit for interviews and career day) but we shouldn’t be “about” our looks as much as we are currently.
  • Disallow clothes to be washed in warm or hot water, as cold water is proven to clean just as well as cold water and requires no heating energy.

Consumer goods

  • Encourage the CU community to reduce its consumption of material things. The “do I really need this?” philosophy epitomizes this, but we don’t all have to take on the 100 thing challenge. We should try maintaining libraries of things like tools and specialty electronics. If you don’t know what I’m talking about (“Product service systems”), Wikipedia doesn’t do as well as this Treehugger article at explaining it.
  • Other simple guidelines could include “don’t buy it new if you can fix the old one — but better yet, maintain the one you have.”
  • Tell prospective students and incoming freshmen that since we supply computers for everyone (and public ones in academic buildings), there really isn’t a need for a laptop during the stay here. (Tell them we didn’t used to suggest this before, so that’s why many older students have them.) What about taking notes in class? they might ask. Even though Blackboard use may naturally (or by edict) increase in the coming years, paper notes are the greenest option since laptops purchased as freshmen will almost be out-of-date by graduation, shortly to become deadly e-waste. (E-waste often harms disadvantaged people, according to this report by 60 Minutes.) If incoming students have the money for a laptop, encourage them to stash it away until they graduate, when they can get one that’s up-to-date. Maybe even offer them an interest-bearing account to stuff it in, so they’ll get more bang from their buck from that as well as from Moore’s Law.

CU/Green on food

CU/Green: Things Cedarville University should consider doing in order to be good stewards of the Earth.

Flickr photo from Andew Stawarz. CC.

Flickr photo from Andew Stawarz. CC.

Food

  • To start, Chuck’s (our cafeteria) should buy food from local farms. There’s Orion Organics in Yellow Springs, but they’re probably not big enough to serve all our needs. Eventually we could start our own farm for our own food, on which we can use our own compost.
  • Get all the professors together who teach the Ethics class and have them come up with the University’s policy on obtaining meat and other animal products for the cafeteria. You’d be surprised at what they would restrict. It would probably be required that we go with organic and “free-range.”
  • Discourage bottled water. Encourage Nalgene/Sigg bottles and, if one doesn’t like the taste of tap water, that water bottle that has a filter built in.
  • For trips to the grocery store (or any store), we should bring our own bags… And nothing would be a better investment from the Marketing department than giving everyone a set of canvas shopping bags (maybe 10-15) with the CU logo stamped on it. It’s awesome promotion… and if we have a special logo for CU/Green, that would let people know what the bags are about. Many bags have corny messages on them, so something like “I want to…. CU/Green” would be appropriate.

CU/Green on transporation

CU/Green: Things Cedarville University should consider doing in order to be good stewards of the Earth.

Flickr photo from Burning Image. CC.

Flickr photo from Burning Image. CC.

Transportation and travel

  • Partner with the village municipality to develop more options for shopping here locally, so everyone won’t have to constantly go to Xenia and Fairfield Commons.
  • Open a university bicycle shop so that biking around the campus, around the village, and for recreation is a viable option without you becoming a mechanic. Some colleges even give away bikes to any student who opts to not bring a car that year.
  • Of course, shopping elsewhere is probably inevitable. Provide a bus to go to Xenia stores one day a week, and a mall another evening of the week, so we don’t have 50-100 cars doing the same.
  • Someone (maybe student government?) should sponsor a hypermiling club that teaches driving techniques that conserve gasoline. This would be for anyone in the community who wants to learn. Learn about the concept at CleanMPG.com and Greenhybrid.com. Some people have more than doubled their fuel economy this way, and it requires no massive initial investment, such as hybrid cars do. Those who want to be certified to drive CU’s vehicles should take a short hypermiling class.