CONTACT: Barbara Angeletti, WVU recycling coordinator
The plastic water bottles, scrap paper or soda cans that you toss into the recycling bin each day don’t weigh very much.
But all of those individual pieces can add up. During October’s annual Ecolympics competition, West Virginia University collected enough recyclables that if put together would weigh a little more than 10 Hummers.
After collecting 33.75 tons of recyclable paper, aluminum and plastic and reaching at least a 10-percent energy reduction in 26 buildings, WVU named its top point getters: student residence Arnold Hall and Apartments, and University workplace Bicentennial House on Mileground Road.
The recycling figures are slightly up from last year when 32.2 tons of material was recycled.
“Ecolympics 2010 was an excellent initiative that furthered our commitment to campus-wide sustainability,” said Clement Solomon, WVU’s director of sustainability. “For an institution our size, the individual contributions of our faculty, staff and students collectively produce significant economic, environmental and social gains.”
Arnold Hall conserved 11 percent of its average energy use and recycled 2.97 tons, which averaged 14.8 pounds a person. At Bicentennial House, workers conserved 22 percent of its average energy usage and recycled 2.6 pounds a person.
Arnold Hall will receive a prize of the students’ choosing and Bicentennial House will receive a 2-hour work-release lunch at Texas Roadhouse.
Of the 52 campus buildings participating, 21 conserved between 10 and 20 percent of normal usage and six buildings conserved 20 percent or greater. The top energy conservers were Pierpont Apartments, Honors Hall, Bicentennial House, Facilities Management PDC Building, South Agricultural Sciences Addition and E. Moore Hall. Pierpont Apartments conserved the most energy at 28 percent.
Arnold Hall and Apartments Residence Hall Director Amy Skeens said it was the overall involvement of her approximately 580 residents that helped the hall to win.
“I think their dedication was definitely what’s special,” Skeens said. “I know some of the students even got their parents involved by bringing items that couldn’t be recycled at home.”
Resident assistants put up signs encouraging students to unplug electronics when not in use, shut off bathroom mirror lights unless needed and generally conserve as much energy as they can. The RAs reminded students to participate in events that garnered the hall extra points, such as the scavenger hunt, opening ceremonies and online quiz.
Arnold and Summit halls have been trading the prize since the competition began four years ago, and RAs who previously helped Arnold to win helped energize the whole hall.
Skeens believes that her students will continue to use good conservation habits even after the competition.
“I’ve noticed that a lot of students have really gotten used to recycling their items,” she said. “In general it definitely seems to be something that everyone’s still supporting.”
After a vote, the students decided they wanted their prize to be flat-screen TVs for their dining hall.
At Bicentennial House, it was the everyday habits of the small staff that earned them recognition. Larry Sypolt, senior project coordinator with the cultural resource management program, said employees and students turn off lights and turn down the heat when they leave and consciously recycle everything that the recycling center will accept.
Ecolympics scores are tallied taking reduction of energy consumption and amount recycled per building and comparing that to how many people live or work in the building. Also included in the recycling figures for this year is the amount recycled— 7.25 tons—for the three football home games during the Ecolympics competition through the Mountaineers Recycle program.
Students are able to pick up points for their halls through participating in various activities, which helped Arnold this year.
“We definitely had more participation in our events” this year, said Barbara Angeletti, WVU’s recycling coordinator. “There was more competition among the students to win the extra points.”
Nearly 600 students took the one-day online quiz that was part of the competition, and during the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Gameday Recycling Challenge at the WVU home game against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, nearly 80 volunteers showed up to help, the most the group has ever had assist in promoting recycling during tailgating.
“Of course it’s important,” Angeletti said of conserving energy and materials. “I think in today’s climate everybody understands the benefits of saving energy.”
For more information about WVU’s sustainability efforts, go to: http://wecan.wvu.edu/
Check http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/ daily for the latest news from the University.
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.