As you may know, I am an Environmental Science major here at Union, so you can imagine that sustainability is pretty high up on my priority list. Luckily, Union is working everyday to make its campus more sustainable and to reduce its carbon footprint. We have a group called U-Sustain that works with students and faculty to make Union greener.
This week is Earth Week, and the sustainability movement is in full swing. There are individual events occurring every day aside from what we do on a daily basis. One of the major changes that has taken place within the past few years is the composting system in the dining halls. Did you know that Union composts 6-8 pounds of food waste per person, per week? That’s all stuff that was previously ending up in a landfill.
Union has also been making small changes around campus, thanks to the help of U-Sustain and our sustainability coordinator, Meghan Haley-Quigley, like adding more recycling bins and water bottle refill stations to campus.
Here are some more ways that Union is becoming more sustainable and reducing its carbon footprint:
1. Union College is a 100% Green Power User. The college also purchases Renewable Energy Certificates to support electricity generation equivalent to Union’s consumption via wind power.
2. Academic and administrative buildings shut their lights off each night (except for safety/security lighting), and lighting controls are used wherever applicable to reduce consumption.
3. Geothermal wells are utilized for summer reheats in the Wold Center (Gold certification in LEED standards) and to dehumidify the Schaffer Library. Geothermal is also the sole source of heating for the Kelly Adirondack Center.
4. Rainwater is collected to water Octopus’ Garden, and low flow shower heads and high efficiency toilets are installed when possible to reduce water consumption.
5. All produce used for Ozone Café and O3 Marketplace is either locally grown or organic. All product grown in Octopus’ Garden is organic.
6. 100% of dining ware used in resident dining halls is reusable.
7. Union has received many awards and recognitions, including: 2013 & 2014 EPA Green Power Leadership Club, 2012-2013 EPA College & University Green Power Challenge winner for Liberty League, Participant in the Energy Start Low Carbon IT Program, 2011 & 2012 Recyclemania Per Capita Classic and Cardboard Winners, & 2014 NEEP Award Recipient. Union was also recently named one of the 2014 Princeton Review’s most environmentally friendly colleges.
Union also competes annually in events like Do It In the Dark (to reduce energy consumption) and Recyclemania (to promote recycling and composting on campus). Union takes steps every day to reduce its carbon footprint and create a more sustainable campus, you may have even seen us composting at recent Admissions events.
Keep up to date with Union’s sustainable practices on the Garnet Goes Green blog.