Going green without spending green
Writer: Writer: Colby Flint
As part of its new Energy and Sustainability Plan, Brigham Young University-Idaho hopes to recycle more than 260 tons of garbage in the upcoming year. The university has also planned conservation efforts for electricity, gas, coal, water, sewage and more-with no additional cost to the university.
"When you consider student expectations, operational cost effectiveness, and that you're just doing the right thing, it makes a strong case for improving energy efficiency and sustainability," said Eric Conrad, director of Facilities Management.
BYU-Idaho finalized its sustainability plan Sept. 26. However, recycling efforts have been progressing since March, when the Student Representative Council teamed with Facilities Management to explore the feasibility of a full-scale recycling program. Students and employees weighed and sorted one week's worth of garbage from the Joseph Fielding Smith and Eliza R. Snow Buildings, finding that 54 percent of garbage thrown away was recyclable.
Now, BYU-Idaho has invested in a new recycling center on campus where recyclable materials are sorted into seven different areas, from aluminum and white paper to cardboard and plastic. With the help of awareness campaigns, the university hopes to recycle at least 30 percent of its garbage, which would equate to 261 tons a year, based on statistics from 2009. The recycling program will be implemented on the north side of campus during this semester, then cover the entire campus beginning next semester.
Recycling revenue and money saved from reduced garbage disposal will cover the extra costs of sorting and delivering recyclables, making the new process cost neutral for the university.
"We're excited about the new recycling program," Conrad said. "But it is only a small part of the comprehensive plan we have put together. We are using water, fuels, electricity and other energy sources more efficiently to make the university more responsible and sustainable."
In order to conserve water, BYU-Idaho is replacing old toilets with low-flow models, decreasing water use from four-and-a-half gallons per flush to 1.6 gallons. Workers have also installed new landscape sprinkler nozzles that spread water more efficiently, resulting in an estimated 50 percent reduction in water use. The university has replaced several water-based air-conditioning systems with air-cooled systems, too. As a result of these and other efforts, BYU-Idaho has not increased water use since 2000, despite dramatic growth in student enrollment.
To conserve power, the university has changed almost every light fixture on campus to high-efficiency bulbs. Most of these bulbs use 28 watts instead of 32. BYU-Idaho was recently cited in Rocky Mountain Power's quarterly newsletter for its enthusiastic participation in the company's financial incentive program, which encourages upgrades to high-efficiency lighting, heating, cooling and other systems. Rocky Mountain Power estimates that the university is saving 2 million kilowatt hours and $83,000 in energy costs a year.
"While BYU-Idaho has always worked to use its resources responsibly, the new Energy and Sustainability Plan will allow the university to be more efficient than ever before," said Charles Andersen, University Resources vice president. "As we implement the plan, we will also continue to search for other new and innovative ways to conserve energy."