Solar Panels on Learning Resource Center Roof

Greening Our Campus to Become More Sustainable

October 17, 2014
By: WSU News

It’s not easy being green. But Worcester State University is up to the challenge.

Since signing the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment with more than 600 institutions in 2007, we have made substantial progress toward our pledge to become climate neutral. The improvements to green the campus earned us the distinction as one the most environmentally responsible green colleges from The Princeton Review.

“We’ve been working hard across campus to become carbon neutral by 2050,” says President Barry Maloney. “While we appreciate the recognition from The Princeton Review, we do this work to become more sustainable for the future of our students, children, and planet.”

The Princeton Review chose the schools based on a survey that asked administrators at hundreds of colleges across the United States and Canada about their institution’s sustainability-related policies, practices, and programs.

Because of our high green rating score, Worcester State was selected as one of 332 schools featured in The Princeton Guide to Green Colleges.

Sustainability Coordinator Steve Bandarra says that WSU is making progress on all fronts. “We are doing many things to reduce greenhouse gases,” he says. “With overwhelming scientific evidence that climate change is happening, our commitment is seen across the board—green building, solar energy, LED lighting, climate change research, and new programs.”

Food Composting

One of our most successful programs is food-waste composting. A year and a half before the Massachusetts commercial food waste ban went into effect on Oct. 1, Worcester State was already diverting food waste. Instead of rotting in a landfill, the waste is reused as a valuable soil supplement for agriculture. Today, we recycle one ton of food waste per week from our Pulse on Dining hall.

Recycling

WSU also participates in an 8-week recycling competition with hundreds of colleges that motivates people to reduce waste and educates students about recycling programs on campus. Our campus recycled 7.2 pounds per person in 2013 and 7.3 pounds per person in 2014.

Solar Energy

Worcester State University is among the top 10 solar-array installations on college campuses around Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. The 540 solar panels on our Learning Resource Center generate more than 140,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, which is enough energy to supply electricity to 20 homes of about 2,800 square feet each. ­­We also purchase electricity from a 182-panel solar array on the roof of Wasylean Hall, which has a capacity of 42 kilowatt hours.

Green Building

Three buildings on campus are LEED-certified: Sheehan Hall, Shaughnessy Administration Building, and Dowden Hall. When the new Wellness Center is opens in 2016, it also will be LEED-certified. LEED, a third-party certification program, is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings.  Its rating system is based on a building’s sustainability features, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere impacts, materials and resources usage, and indoor environmental quality.

Curriculum and Research

Worcester State is integrating sustainability into its curriculum by offering sustainability-oriented courses such as green chemistry and environmental chemistry. Faculty-led student research includes the study of the melting of Antarctica ice sheets, oceanic sustainability, climate science, ecocriticism, and carbon exchange in area forests.

Celebrating Sustainability

The WSU campus community comes together once a year to celebrate our greening efforts and promote sustainability. This year, we hosted the 7th annual Sustainability and Food Day Fair on October 22 and 23 in order to highlight sustainability-related lectures by faculty, students, and community members, vendor and electric vehicle exhibits, tours of our art gallery and Garden for All Ages, a local-food barbecue, and film screenings.

“We still have a really big challenge ahead of us, but I believe we can achieve our goal,” Bandarra says. “The Worcester State community is a really exciting place to be.”

One Comment

  1. […] more about Worcester State University’s sustainability efforts campus-wide here, and see the list of EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge winners here.  Fellow Massachusetts […]

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