The U has been working with the Sustainability Office to find productive and beneficial solutions to climate change in the state of Utah. From energy ambassadors and green teams to farmer’s markets and strategic initiatives, the U is taking broad steps forward in order to help reduce carbon footprints and operate more efficiently.
In recent years, many U students have started groups and projects to reach out to administration with the support of university faculty. In 2007, the U signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, strived to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building standards, built the cogeneration energy plant and set the goal to achieve water neutrality by the year 2020. This is just the beginning for sustainability at the U.
One main focus for sustainability on campus is to ensure buildings are energy efficient. Myron Wilson, Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer, said, “Energy standards for new buildings exceed the building code by 40 percent. New buildings on campus are much more efficient than similar buildings in the surrounding community. These standards will not only save the U millions of dollars over the life of the building, but also significantly reduce carbon emissions.”
The U has set a building standard in addition to aggressive energy standard requirements. Wilson continued, “The U has a standard for all new buildings to achieve a minimum rating of LEED Silver. LEED addresses many facets of sustainability, like water efficiency, water-wise landscaping, solutions to reduce the impact from storm water and the built environment and healthy-green build- ing materials to reduce the impact of paints and adhesives and glues on interior air quality.”
A little-known fact about the U is the cogeneration energy plant located near the UMFA. This central heating plant collects waste heat and turns it into clean electricity for campus. The plant produces over seven million watts of power for campus; four times the total amount that existing solar panels produce on campus.
In addition to the cogeneration energy plant, the U continues to use solar power. There are several solar arrays on campus buildings including the Sill Center, V Randall Turpin Building, Natural History Museum of Utah, HPER East, Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building and the Marriott Library. There are other solar projects in progress now throughout campus, including a new solar parking canopy located near Pioneer Theater and rooftop solar panels on the Williams Building parking roof structure.
In addition to solar power on campus, the U also signed up for the Better Buildings Challenge (BBC). Wilson explained, “The BBC is a program to make existing buildings much more efficient (20 percent more efficient per square foot by 2020). Phase 1 is underway and includes the Chemistry Building.”
In upcoming years, the U is striving for more active modes of transportation from students and faculty. Administration is working on initiatives to increase support for walking, biking and boarding to and from campus. By collecting data, analysis for future infrastructures, bike parking and safety awareness programs, the U hopes to see more active transportation throughout campus.
For students who want to reduce their carbon footprint and start practicing a more sustainable lifestyle, Wilson said, “You can’t reduce what you can’t measure — we have a greenhouse gas calculator and measure our progress for reductions every year. We also use the STARS system to help us understand where we need to improve and when to celebrate our accomplishments. Likewise, we recommend that individuals use a tool to help understand where their personal impact could be reduced.”
For current students at the U who are looking for more ways to be involved, the Sustainability Office provides many ways to get connected with other students on campus with the same goals. From recycling ambassadors, student government, green teams and more, there are many opportunities to participate in the sustainability movement on campus. Follow the link for more information on how to get involved on campus. http://sustainability.utah.edu/