UC continues to go ‘green’
September 17, 2009
The University has undergone a number of green initiatives over the past two years in an effort to be more sustainable, including the University Center’s rainwater harvest system and the “corn cups” used by Dining Services.
“Every step we take, no matter how small in energy and material conservation, efficiency and ecosystem friendly production and management, is worth the effort.” said Kelly Cain, director of the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development. The rainwater harvest system reuses 48,000 gallons of water in order to flush the toilets in the UC, “saving significant amounts of fresh water pumped from the municipal water system,” Cain said.
As for the corn cups, they are composed of Polylactic Acid, a starch-based plastic “that will decompose (relatively quickly), under the right environmental conditions,” Cain said. The rainwater harvest system along with the corn cups are only some of the green initiatives going on at UWRF.
According to Cara Rubis, director of the University Center, “we are currently working on marketing pieces to help promote the green initiatives that were added to the UC over the summer. Some of these pieces are completed, but some are yet to be developed.”
Examples of these new green pieces are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified hand dryers in bathrooms in order to minimize the waste of paper towels and use of fossil fuels for its transportation. Meeting rooms have a “sustainable lighting option” to try to use less energy. Water bottle filling stations can also be found on the lower level and first level to dispose of less plastic bottles.
The toilets have dual flush values which provide a lower volume of water usage option when flushing. The urinals have Eco Cubes to decrease the number of flushes to only 2-3 times per day, according to Rubis.
When asked how students can help with green initiatives, “many of us go through our daily routines without thinking twice about our actions. Our routines become habit and we don’t give them another thought.” said Rubis. Incorporating green ideas throughout the UC, “will provide individuals the opportunity to stop and think about what they could be doing differently to reduce their own carbon footprint. Then take it a step further to have conversations with other individuals about sustainability, in order to get others to think differently about how they go about their lives.” said Rubis.
Dana Kaye, a senior majoring in dairy science, works as a desk assistant at the information desk in the UC and notes the importance of spreading the word about the recent green changes. She says there are signs posted throughout the UC to make people aware of the water bottle filling stations and hand dryers along with information about their environmental benefits. The University’s green changes “shows dedication towards future progress,” Kaye said. She says the recent initiatives also make River Falls a leader in change.
According to a June 13, 2008, University news release, in 2006, Governor Jim Doyle designated UWRF as one of the four UW System campuses to go “off the grid.” By 2012, the campus is expected to achieve balance in its energy consumption between traditional sources and alternative “green” blocks either purchased or produced on campus.
“The UC is definitely not a perfect example of a green building; most of that is due to the fact that ‘going green’ had yet to hit mainstream until after the planning and design phases of the UC were completed,” Rubis said. “In addition, keeping up with sustainability is much like keeping up with technology - everyday, something new is developed that is more green. However, the UC will continue to incorporate green initiatives as we move forward. We need to continue to do what we can to lead by example.”