Green strides on a blue and gold campus

October 15, 2008 at 5:14 pm 10 comments

It’s one of those days that I’m proud to be a Kent Stater. This past week, I’ve conducted a couple interviews about green initiatives on campus. I first dove into it as an assignment for Flash Communications, the Jim Zentmeyercampus student-run public relations agency. But I’m so ecstatic about all the changes and efforts, I had to blog about it too.

Last week, I spoke to Jim Zentmeyer, associate director of administrative operations and facilities, about green strides in the Residence Services department. This guy really knows his stuff. He was tossing statistics and quotes all over the place, a writer’s dream. Here’s a quick summary of some adjustments they’ve made to be kinder to mother earth:

  1. Replaced 1,300 incandescent light bulbs in two resident halls this past summer to compact fluorescent bulbs. With the switch, Jim said they were able to “increase performance and decrease consumption.”
  2. Switched cleaning products to natural ones. “Ninety-nine percent of our cleaning products have no negative impact on the environment.”
  3. Swapped 190 top-loader washing machines this past summer for front-loader machines. Jim told me that front-loaders are more efficient because “the water goes through the clothes instead of the clothes sitting in water; it reduces water by 60 percent. And the spinning strength is stronger so there’s less drying time required.”

But here’s the best part. Residence Services is making changes, communicating the changes and engaging it’s target audience through participation.
Music to my ears.

Resident Hall Rivalry
Last year the resident halls held energy conservation and recycling competitions. Although it was the first year, Jim said the turn out was surprising.

“During the competition, overall energy consumption reduced by 12 percent which is equivalent to $15,000 in electrical savings just in October. And there was an increase of 14.77 percent in recycling. That’s a nice one-month bump.”

It gets even better. Forgive me, I tend to get really excited about well-executed green campaigns. Tri-Towers Kent StateOnce the competitions ended, Jim noticed that the Tri-Towers cluster had the least participation in recycling. Instead of accepting it, the department was proactive. He said surveys were conducted and found that recycling bins weren’t readily visible to students there.

“We beefed up the advertising for the disposals and made it as easy as possible for students to recycle. They used to be tucked away in the laundry rooms and now there’s bins in the hallways.”

 The beauty of it all is that the Residence Services administration is making changes to be greener. And it’s asking the students to care too through RA programs, bulletin boards, fliers promoting the competitions and the competitions themselves. It’s researching their target audience, communicating the importance of living greener, engaging its audience and evaluating the results.

Dining Greener
Yesterday, I spoke with Autumn Piller, marketing director of Dining Services about its efforts toward greendome. She made this public relations girl squirm with glee too. Not only are they:

  1. Using all natural dishwashing products
  2. Recycling more behind-the-scenes
  3. Utilizing a pulper. It’s a contraption that chops all the food particles and sends it down a shoot. This keeps it out of the landfills and gives it back to the landscape as decomposed fertilizer. Appetizing, right?
  4. Pushing real plates and silverware
  5. Shipping cooking oil off to be converted into gasoline

Not only are they doing all that but Autumn said they’re looking at neighboring schools and schools in other states for more green ideas. Knowing that Dining Services is doing their research on best practices makes my heart happy.

And to top it off, Autumn said her approach on communicating to the students is “education and education.” Not persuasion, education. Yippee.

This is me on green cloud nine. Kent State’s Residence and Dining Services are moving in the right direction to reducing its environmental impact. And they’re doing it the right way – PR. OK, I’m a little partial but what can you do?

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Entry filed under: green, Kent State, public relations. Tags: , , , .

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Laura  |  October 22, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Three stars for reminding everyone that little changes all come together to make a big difference.

  • 2. brittanythoma13  |  October 22, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks, Laura. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by. And yes, it’s all about collaboration.

  • 3. Holly Montjoy  |  October 24, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Way to go Kent!!! Maybe ECU will catch up soon!!!

  • 4. Ryan Cooper  |  October 24, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Although I agree the efficiency of light bulbs is important in reducing our energy consumption. These “new” light bulbs are made differently and its important the public knows the dangers so they can plan accordingly.

  • 5. brittanythoma13  |  October 24, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Thanks, Ryan. I haven’t heard about any of the dangers of the compact fluorescent bulbs. What are they?

  • 6. Travis B  |  October 25, 2008 at 4:41 am

    Ryan is referring to the increased levels of mercury that are found in the compact fluorescent bulbs. Although studies show that they pose no real threat to people as far as indoor air quality or other health hazards (unless they are eaten), there is some concern about future mercury levels in the environment. Overall though this concern is negated by the fact that the process of electricity production is far more polluting (including mercury, carbon dioxide, and many other pollutants) than what is found in the bulbs. So by saving energy you are preventing a net loss in mercury emissions despite the fact that the new bulbs have a little more mercury.

  • 7. Victoria Elliot  |  October 25, 2008 at 5:20 am

    Always knew side loading washers were better than top loaders, but never knew why. Thanks for the knowledge. It is power, or power saving in this case.

  • 8. brittanythoma13  |  October 28, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    Travis, thank you so much for enlightening me about the mercury levels in the fluorescent bulbs. I’m relieved to know they’re doing more good than bad.

    Victoria, I was the same way. I never knew why front-loaders were more energy efficient until I interviewed Jim. Thanks for joining the conversation.

  • 9. Mariah  |  November 25, 2008 at 4:03 am

    I had no idea the effort our school was putting into going green. I know from my own personal experience that by changing the light bulbs in my home I was able to save so much energy and I can only imagine the impact that has had on the campus. It is wonderful that the residence halls are pushing recycling. I am a commuter student and did not know about the competition; however as an avid recycler I have enjoyed seeing increased blue recycling bins near or in most of my class rooms. I feel strongly about protecting our planet and its natural recourses because once they are gone, every other living thing will begin to go as well. But I think hearing about the dinning service shipping off cooking oil to be converted to gasoline was my favorite part. While gas prices are no longer sky-high, it is encouraging to know that KSU is doing its part to regulate the price to some extent, even if it is just a small amount.

  • 10. brittanythoma13  |  November 26, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    I’m with you, Mariah. I think turning cooking oil into gasoline is a really neat concept. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and was able to enlighten you with the green ways of KSU.

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I'm Brittany Thoma, PR pro-in-training. Living greener is my mission. I want to learn, inform and discuss topics cropping up in the green movement and how it relates to public relations.

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