Central Michigan University embraces several environmental initiatives
Editor’s note: Every Friday, CM Life will publish an in-depth piece, examining different issues.
It’s no secret the popularity of energy-efficient products is on the rise.
Whether it’s home appliances or hybrid cars, Central Michigan University is no exception to the environmental push.
The Education and Human Services Building, CMU’s recycling program and other campus plans are leading the way in efforts to make a more environmentally friendly campus.
For the past two years, Eagle graduate student Audrie Thelen has been a part of CMU’s recycling program, which she said has taken major strides since her start.
“When I first started, the recycling program wasn’t that big,” she said. “We mainly just went around collecting ink cartridges and made sure the blue tanks weren’t overflowing.”
Since that time, the program has placed separate bins for plastic, aluminum and mixed paper in every kitchenette of every residence hall. There are also blue trash cans in every individual dorm room with a recycling symbol, where they can then be disposed of in the kitchenette.
More students are working at the center because custodians do not have time, Thelen said. The center has assigned one student responsible for recycling duties in each of the four residence hall complexes.
Aside from the education building and recycling center, CMU has several other methods of “going green.”
According to statistics from the Office of Institutional Research, 90 percent of CMU’s main campus is heated by steam produced at Central Energy Facility, where it is then distributed to all the buildings on campus. The other 10 percent of campus is heated by natural gas equipment.
Additionally, over 90 percent of light fixtures are energy-efficient. All new appliances entering CMU are energy star rated and 80 percent of the existing appliances are today, according to the OIR.
The participation of students in making CMU more environmental-friendly is crucial, Thelen said.
“We need to realize that our resources aren’t infinite, so to keep wasting them is not going to work forever,” Thelen said. “So why wait until that happens? Why not lessen that shock when we run out of resources? That’s what makes sense to me.”
An educational experience
The EHS building, completed in the spring of 2008, is distinct because it is the first time the university has tried to achieve Leadership Energy Environmental Design certification for a building, Kathy Koch said.
Not only does the new building serve as an education tool, but it also has created a long-term cost saving, said Koch, interim dean of the College of Education and Human Services.
“What we found is that savings in energy are far beyond what we expected.” Koch said. “I believe that it will become the standard in other buildings.”
CMU’s education building is aiming for gold certification, the second-highest honor before platinum.
Koch said the education building has included many features that will help it reach LEED certification, Koch said. The roof is composed of several layers that conserve heat in the winter, cool in the summer and reduce wastewater runoff.
The building prominently features windows in all classrooms and hallways which extend from the floor to the ceiling in order to let in the maximum amount of natural light and reduce electrical consumption.
Many of its building materials were taken from quickly renewable sources. The furnishings, carpeting, and paint are recyclable and don’t emit harmful gasses, Koch said.
The green features even extend to the bathrooms. There are no paper towels and reduced water usage in the faucet.
Koch said it is an excellent way to conserve resources and make things more affordable and accessible to students.
“We’re in a good position to educate students about these issues,” Koch said. “We can do that by the way we build, refurnish and remodel our facilities.”
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