Green strides on a blue and gold campus
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 campus 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:
- 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.”
- Switched cleaning products to natural ones. “Ninety-nine percent of our cleaning products have no negative impact on the environment.”
- 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. Once 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.
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:
- Using all natural dishwashing products
- Recycling more behind-the-scenes
- 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?
- Pushing real plates and silverware
- 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?