The latest sustainability report card from the Sustainable Endowments Institute highlights West Virginia University’s strategic and extensive efforts to make all of its campuses sustainable, especially in the area of transportation and building.
The University’s grade this year was a “B-” and included “A” grades in the categories of transportation, administration, green building and investment priorities.
Every year the institute releases overall university grades on sustainability made up of individual grades in nine categories: administration, climate change and energy, food and recycling, green building, student involvement, transportation, endowment transparency, investment priorities and shareholder engagement.
WVU Director of Sustainability Clement Solomon said the University’s push toward sustainability is holistic, reaching toward every department and all levels of the institution. It is also for the long haul.
“It’s an ongoing commitment, and our goal is to continually advance sustainability in harmony with our land grant mission,” he said. “I believe that the contribution of many across campus has been the key in furthering our sustainable campus vision.
“No one individual or department can make this happen. Sustainability is part of our overall game plan.”
A few years ago, WVU’s score on the report card was a “C.” Now long-term, extensive projects are being recognized as moving the University forward toward a responsible, sustainable future.
Last year, WVU received a B grade, which shifted slightly this year as the University received higher marks in some areas and saw some downward shifts in others. Though WVU’s students continue to be involved in the annual energy conservation and recycling Ecolympics competition, Mountaineers Recycle initiative, the One Shirt campaign to distribute clothing to the homeless and various campus groups, including WVU Biodiesel and the Sierra Student Coalition, the institute lowered WVU’s student involvement grade to a “B.”
“Through various sustainability programs and initiatives, we focus on providing venues for a co-curricular learning experience for students as they are our future leaders of society,” Solomon said.
One of the categories in which WVU continues to score high is in the area of transportation, partly because of its unique Personal Rapid Transit system.
“It is great to be recognized for the A grade by this sustainability report as it validates many of the innovative programs that the Department of Transportation and Parking has put into place,” said Hugh Kierig, WVU’s director of Transportation and Parking. “From free access on the PRT and Mountain Line to the Zipcar car-sharing and Zimride online carpool matching program, WVU has been at the forefront in developing ways to increase mobility and create sustainable options.”
The University was also given high marks in the area of green building, including for its consideration of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building standards and benchmarking as part of WVU’s large capital projects.
WVU’s work in the area of food management includes the donation of excess food to charities and takes cooking oil to a biodiesel processor. Of the university’s five all-you-can-eat dining halls, four have gone trayless, which during a week’s comparison showed that one of the trayless dining halls had a 42 percent reduction in waste compared to the one with trays.
While WVU’s energy grade was lowered on the report card, the University continues to conserve energy through the third phase of what is expected to be a $50 million energy retrofit to buildings on all of WVU’s campuses. And that is only one part of WVU’s energy saving efforts.
Joe Patten, WVU’s director of design and construction, said the Facilities Management division constantly looks for ways to save energy such as using motion-detecting light sensors.
“Beyond performance contracting, when we replace older equipment with new equipment we definitely look at the energy efficiency of the new equipment,” he said. “When we’re building new buildings we do the same thing. We look at the equipment, we look at the lighting, making sure we have energy-efficient lighting.”
Last summer, WVU’s College of Law received energy efficient computer devices called thin clients, which have cut down on energy consumption at the law library and in a computer lab. The thin client is a scaled-down version of a computer that draws on applications through a server when needed.
One of the biggest single factors in the University’s growth in advancing sustainability is increased awareness and participation on campus, Solomon said.
“Overall, the awareness aspect of sustainability has permeated across the institution,” he said.
To find out more about WVU’s sustainability efforts, go to its redesigned sustainability website at http://wecan.wvu.edu/
CONTACT: WVU University Relations-News
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