How Does Binghamton University Stay Green?
Posted by Senior Matthew Carrigan on April 18, 2016
Binghamton students and faculty are environmentally conscious in their personal lives, and the University’s focus on maintaining the environment reflects this. Binghamton follows several initiatives geared towards keeping the Earth clean while still paving the road towards progress and success. Sustainability is one of the University's five transdisciplinary areas of excellence, using the knowledge, resources and outlook of individuals spanning across disciplines to keep the environment clean. Binghamton promotes sustainable practices in its daily and long-term operations by focusing energy towards specific sustainable practices.
As programs continue to expand and the need for space grows, Binghamton University prioritizes sustainability. Following Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) initiatives allows buildings to fully embrace the environment. Beginning with Mountainview College's Cascade and Windham Halls, each new building on campus has met these criteria for being environmentally conscious. In 2013, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority awarded Binghamton the High Performance Energy Efficiency award for the Engineering and Science Building's environmental initiatives. Binghamton also conserves energy by closely monitoring building temperatures and encouraging windows as an alternative to air conditioning. The reconstruction of the Dickinson and Newing residential communities also emphasized sustainability.
Recycling initiatives help eliminate excess energy use from technology and provide a safe way for students to dispose of their used electronics. To further reduce power consumption, the Information Technology Services Department has also moved external department servers to one central location and developed a method to limit PC power consumption. Looking forward, the administration hopes to make strides in reducing printing and paper consumption, and eliminating power consumption by storing more data in the cloud than local servers.
Local fruit, vegetable and dairy vendors are key to allowing Binghamton to maximize local food usage and keep food wholesome and organic while helping local businesses. Regional food sources provide us with 57 percent of our food. Dining Services regularly recycles cardboard, glass, aluminum, paper and plastic. To measure the impact of wasted food, Sodexo holds a “Weigh the Waste” event to show how we can be less wasteful. MarketPlace cost initiatives encourage reusable plastic cups, as opposed to paper. Old equipment is replaced with new equipment that is Energy Star-rated. Students living off campus have the option to participate in the Binghamton Food Co-op, which offers students produce at a low cost.
Binghamton’s naturally beautiful campus requires care as well. Operation Green Space seeks to revitalize the University's natural landscape by replacing areas with underutilized pavement with new grass. So far, over two acres of land have been “re-greened,” and several trees have been planted to restore a natural feel to the area. The E.W. Heier Teaching Greenhouse helps keep students educated about positive environmental practices. Spring Campus Clean-Up Day gives students the opportunity to contribute to cleaning the campus. And beyond being the most serene area on campus, the Nature Preserve is the perfect sanctuary to see the benefits that positive environmental practices yield.
While energy conservation is important, utilizing natural solar energy is also key to cultivating a sustainable environment. The Engineering Building provides students the opportunity to do research with the two-story photovoltaic wall, which converts solar energy into direct current electricity. The Susquehanna community has embraced solar energy by using a 5kw solar panel to provide hot water. Binghamton’s own Center for Autonomous Solar Power is constantly researching new ways to harness and utilize solar power.
Reducing the necessity of vehicles on and around campus is key to eliminating unnecessary fuel emissions. University Police have incorporated electric cars and bike patrols to reduce reliance on fuel. The Off-Campus College Transport bus system helps provide students with alternatives to driving their own cars. The Binghamton University Bike Share further reduces these dangerous emissions and helps to encourage a fitness-oriented lifestyle.
The University participates in multiple programs to encourage waste reduction and recycling. Recycle Mania is a friendly competition among schools to determine who can be the most proactive in recycling. Students are encouraged to donate unwanted food and clothing during Move Out Week, and they collectively donated 1.7 tons of sealed food last year. The Student E-Waste Drive helps students find a way to either donate or recycle their old electronics. The Compost Organic Garden at Binghamton uses decayed matter to promote the growth of natural gardens, putting no materials to waste. The greenhouse, dining halls and other campus eateries contribute at least 2,000 pounds of compostable waste every day.
Four 68-foot long, 500,000-gallon tanks were installed in the University Center of Excellence Building as part of one of the largest rainwater-harvesting projects to date in upstate New York. Harvesting rainwater mainly from parking lots and roofs, this system redirects the water throughout campus for various uses. The Nature Preserve also aids in keeping clean water, while each different environment in the Nature Preserve contributes towards the negative effects of water pollutants and reducing erosion. The Center for Integrated Watershed Studies is a leading local authority on how human actions affect watersheds, in terms of research, policy and education. Over 52 million gallons of water are saved each year as a result of these practices.
Binghamton University is doing everything to look ahead and maintain environmentally safe practices. By continuing these efforts, the University will help to lay the foundation for a positively enhanced environment and a happy and healthy student body, and build a greener Binghamton.
Matthew Carrigan is a senior majoring in English from Farmingdale, N.Y. He is interested in content writing, copywriting, public relations and communications.
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