SJSU working on becoming a sustainable campus

by May 7, 2013 3:58 pm Tags: , , , , , ,

Most people are unaware that SJSU has adopted tactics that have been in place for years to make this campus more environmentally sustainable.

The Sustainability Board is a committee of the Academic Senate that meets once a month to work on methods to advance sustainability on campus, according to Lynne Trulio, the Environmental Studies Department Chair.

Trulio, who is the co-chair of the Sustainability Board, said the Sustainability at SJSU website is run by members of the Sustainability Board.

According to information provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, sustainability is defined as “meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

“Sustainability is the ability to improve the quality of life,” Joanna Ho, a junior finance major said. “I feel like the majority of students still don't realize how important going green is.”

Christopher Brown, vice president of Facilities Development and Operations said SJSU has been working to promote the sustainability of campus resources for more than 10 years.

“People think sustainability is about recycling tin cans and newspapers,” he said. “Sure that's a part of it, but there's so much more than that.”

According to a report put together by Sustainability at SJSU, the campus meets the standards in the areas of power, water, transportation, waste reduction, recycling and LEED certified buildings.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system is a rating that provides third-party verification of green buildings.

To receive a LEED Silver certificate, buildings have to maintain standards in categories such as water efficiency and indoor environmental quality.

According to the report established by Sustainability at SJSU, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library was designed and built to meet LEED certified Silver standards and all newly constructed buildings on campus will be designed to meet these standards.

“We write our own generation plan, and we have (only) recycled water,” Brown said.

SJSU is one of two campuses in the CSU system with a large co-generation facility that produces six megawatts of electricity, steam, and chilled water, according to the report. The other campus is San Francisco State University.

The campus uses recycled water for many purposes, such as toilets and irrigation, according to the report.

The report also stated that the installation of artificial turf at Spartan Stadium has saved the campus over one million gallons of water a year.

The cafe in the Student Union has begun recycling 100 percent of their cooking oil, according to the report.

According to a Transportation Solutions report, 60 percent of students and faculty commute to SJSU via alternative transportation such as bikes, light rail, walking or carpooling.

“There are distinct places (on campus) where plastic bottles, cans, and paper are supposed to be thrown away,” Ho said.

Brown also said that in addition to recycling cans and paper, the campus recycles furniture, computers and electronics, batteries, lightbulbs, and green waste.

“Those are sustainability measures that add up to a lot,” Brown said.

The group has future plans to improve campus sustainability, including renovations for improving energy for buildings around campus and installation of solar panels on five potential buildings.

"Next Fall, the Sustainability Board is planning to host an SJSU Sustainability Summit to highlight the many classes, activities and research that focus on sustainability at SJSU," Trulio said.

Trulio also said that the Sustainability Board will have a campus-wide workshop focused on integrating sustainability into curriculum.

"(It's) to help faculty use sustainability as a high-impact teaching tool," she said.

Brown said there were a lot of ways students can reduce their carbon footprint and help improve sustainability, including managing E-waste, using public transit, using reusable water bottles and avoiding paper waste.

“We do it because it's the right thing to do,” he said.

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