First open sustainability forum covers campus food waste, compost, maintenance

Ryan Hanson and Ryan Hanson

The Office of Campus Sustainability [OCS] held the first open forum of the 2014-2015 school year on Dec. 3. Nick Hennessy, Sustainability Coordinator, said that OCS is going to have more open forums in the spring semester.

The forum started with Hennessy introducing the Climate Action Plan. The organizing for a Climate Action Plan happened after President Mazey signed the University onto the Presidents’ Climate Commitment [PCC] in October 2012.

The PCC is group of colleges that have signed up to attempt to reach carbon footprint neutrality.

A zero carbon footprint would mean that any emissions the University made would be “made up” with carbon credits. These carbon credits would be something like purchasing a forest or planting trees.

One way that the campus is saving energy is with solar panels. Senior Josh Chamberland, an intern for the OCS, said that anyone is able to track the amount of energy produced in real time by The Oaks’ solar energy panels on OCS’s website.

“I’d like to see that utilized more, just to show solar energy really does work,” Chamberland said.

Also addressed at the forum was the University’s composting project. Currently, only The Oaks composts pre-consumer food waste. Waste such as fruit rinds and the tops of tomatoes are composted; all items that are used for this haven’t been touched by any diners.

The composting is compiled by dining employees in special containers, then picked up by Hirzel Farms, which is a local composting farm in Pemberville. Hennessy said the University currently doesn’t receive any of the compost back, but Hirzel Farms did donate compost to the Bowling Green community gardens.

Hennessy said that the amount of compost that the Oaks contributes has gone down since the program started. One possible reason for this is Dining’s Trim Trax program.

This focuses around how to use as much of a food product as possible. This means that employees are slicing food more efficiently and creating less waste to compost.

“I’m not complaining that we’re collecting less,” Hennessy said.

AJ Staron, an air quality technician for Campus Operations, attended the forum to voice her concerns from a maintenance perspective.

Staron said there are computer labs in Harshman, room 101 and the Alumni Call Center, which hold high temperatures because of the heat that comes off the computer monitors. These rooms are often so hot they have to be air-conditioned. She said that many computers are left on all day and night, even if they are not in use.

“I see a lot of screen savers swirling around,” Staron said.

If at least the monitors could get turned off, Staron said that the University could be using less energy and saving more money.

Staron also said that energy could be saved by fixing equipment. During the forum, she gave the example that she found out a certain door on campus had been broken and letting air escape outside for months, but she had just recently discovered this.

Staron said that had someone submitted a work order to Campus Operations, it could have saved any heat or air conditioning that had escaped in the meantime. Anyone is able to submit a work order through their MyBGSU account, under Miscellaneous Services.

Hennessy also said that students’ energy concerns can be directed at [email protected]

A zero carbon footprint would mean that any emissions the University made would be “made up” with carbon credits. These carbon credits would be something like purchasing a forest or planting trees.