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Conservation, recycling efforts cut campus costs

By : Katie Ellis

Bins across campus allow faculty, staff and students to pitch in with campus recycling efforts.
Efforts to reduce energy consumption and preserve natural spaces continue on a daily basis at Binghamton University. Some of the efforts are more visible than others — recycling containers are everywhere; turn a light switch on or off and you’re likely to see a reminder to be energy smart; electric vehicles most often referred to as “bubble cars” plug into a standard 110-volt outlet to charge and are now the norm on campus.

Other efforts are not as visible, including the reorganization of the Faculty Senate Committee for the University Environment (CUE), approved by the Faculty Senate in June 2003. Now a joint Faculty Senate-Administration committee, CUE is charged with preserving and enhancing the quality of the University environment. Chaired by Julian Shepherd, associate professor of biological sciences, and co-chaired by Anthony Ferrara, vice president for administration, CUE is focusing on four areas: energy, transportation, natural areas and recycling waste.

“Our larger goal is to implement the campus environmental policy and look at its ramifications,” Shepherd said. “Then we can talk about it and make recommendations.”

In response to requests from the Binghamton Metropolitan Transportation Study (BMTS) for comment on current plans to remodel the Vestal Corridor, CUE is seeking input on ways to reduce traffic to and from campus.

“The BMTS has appealed to us for information,” said Shepherd. “We’re looking at recommendations to pass along to them — perhaps for car pooling, enhanced access to buses for faculty and staff — possibilities like that.” To lower the number of cars coming to campus as well as emissions from vehicles, CUE is considering recommendations as varied as offering free parking for car pool vehicles, lower parking charges for hybrid cars, use of ride-match software, advocacy for bicycle paths and racks or the possibility of free passes for BC Transit and OCC Transport buses.

Other not-so-visible efforts by the campus to better manage energy costs — which average $24,000 a day — include hiring staff to coordinate conservation and recycling efforts and the constant refining of an energy management system for buildings.

Juliet Berling, environmental resource manager, knows the value of recycling. “About 20 percent of our waste on campus — 400 tons — was recycled last year,” she said. “With the cost to haul trash away at $40 a ton, I hope to see the tonnage of recycled materials grow.”

This year, Berling is focusing on getting students to recycle through the establishment of an aggressive program in residence halls. “There’s a lot of interest in it,” she said. “It’s been very positive.”

The energy management system, which now includes more than 28,000 sensors in campus buildings, allows staff to monitor and control building temperatures and mechanical equipment. Additional efforts, such as conversion of hot water heaters and dryers from electricity to gas, also save the campus money. One such conversion of hot water boosters for dishwashers in Hinman, CIW and Dickinson communities last summer is estimated to save $32,000 annually.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08