Sunday, 7 October 2012

PGC 2012 Day 4: School Profile

The Overview
When each of you signed up for PGC 2012, you shared about great eco initiatives being spearheaded on your campus. Some of these included bans on single use water bottles and integrating hydration stations, Eco Rep programs, energy challenges, recycling and composting programs, gardens, and more. You have also shared many innovative ideas about initiatives that you would like to see brought to life on your campus. The goal of this challenge is to help you think through, develop and initiate change at your schools

Today, we are partnering with National Student Day, a program taking place at thousands of college bookstores around the country. The goal of NSD is to award students for outstanding volunteer work in their communities! When you finish your challenge, click here or head to your school bookstore to see if they are hosting a NSD celebration on campus.


Green Challenge

Use your school campus as a palette for exploration. What is being done that supports human and environmental health and what changes could be made to improve your school's commitment to sustainability? Sometimes, all it takes is looking around, developing an idea, engaging peers and faculty, and following through on a desire to affect change. So let’s get started!

Question:
Do you have a Department of Sustainability or entity that oversees green initiatives on campus?

If so, who is the lead person and what is their title and email address?

Field Trip:
Take a walk around campus and stop at five or more locations to do some research. Locations could include campus bookstore, dining hall, dorms, classrooms, gym, cleaning closet, laundry room or common spaces.

Make a list of five items (ie: paper towels), practices (ie: recycling), or initiatives (ie: PGC) that you observe in these locations which contribute to a more sustainable campus.

Answers

Macquarie University has a Sustainability Department, led by the director Leanne Denby. Her email is: leanne.denby@mq.edu.au

1. Hospital

The Hospital was built using bricks designed by Think Brick, a company which strives to produce its brick sustainably, by undertaking research with university into brick design and production. The Hospital is also essentially paperless, using electronic records.

2. Library

The Macquarie University library is aiming for a Green Star Rating. Firstly, an ecological assessment of the site was carried out to determine no endangered species would be threatened. Secondly, the building design itself is very sustainable, by maximising natural light usage and natural ventilation, and using alternative and low impact power sources.

3. Central Courtyard

The Central Courtyard has long been one of the 'green spaces' on campus. There are large swathes of grass and huge gumtrees planted across it, and ibises are regularly seem in this area. Whilst there is a large television screen at one end of the courtyard, its emissions are being offset.

4. Atrium

The Atrium is a gathering place in the university, where performances and fairs are often held. It is glass-roofed for capture of natural light. There are also a number of water fountains around the place. The nearby food outlets encourage reusable cups by giving discounts to those who bring their own cups. Further, all coffee, tea and hot chocolate on campus is Fair Trade or ethically sourced.

5. Lotus Theatre

Accordingto the sign outside the Lotus Theatre, the building was constructed by a company called Fabritecture, which involves a steel frame with a high tensile 'skin' rather than standard bricks-and-mortar. This is considered sustainable in two ways: firstly, less material and energy was required to produce the material for Lotus Theatre. Also, the building is 'recyclable', that is, it is able to be dismantled with relative ease, relocated and re-erected.

Greener Challenge
Now that you have carried out an assessment of positive practices on campus, you have an opportunity to consider some ways that your campus could improve. 
Based on your observations, make a list of five items, practices, or initiatives that you would like to see changed or implemented to create a more sustainable and conscious campus. 
Take a photo or find an online image that correlates to each item on your list. 
Caption each photo with an explanation of why you would like to see this change implemented, and if it were, how that action would contribute to a more sustainable campus.

1. Paperless offices
Paperless offices are offices which cease to use paper for record-keeping and communication, and switch to electronic means, such as email and computer databases. Whilst some of the offices, such as the Vice-Chancellor's, have begun the move towards paperless offices, I would like to see this move implemented across the university. The amount of paper a university uses even in a single day is immense; therefore, going paperless would cut down on the massive amount of paper used by the university.

2. More water fountains
More water fountains or 'bubblers' around campus would encourage students to bring their own reusable bottles. This would also be healthier for students, as it would encourage them to drink more water.

3. Bottle free campus
Following from point 2, students would be further encouraged to use reusable bottles and drink more water if the campus went bottle free. That is, if campus shops stopped selling drinks in bottles. The amount of plastic and energy involved in creating drink bottles is comparable to the scale of production of paper, thus prohibition of bottle selling on campus would be very effective. There is currently a small group looking into the idea of banning bottled water on campus, but banning of all types of bottled drinks would be ideal.

4. Renewable energy
Whilst Macquarie University currently has a geothermal tower, little of its energy comes from renewable sources. Installation of solar panels, or graztel cell glass, would boost renewable energy production. If the university can produce more energy than is needed, then it could sell that energy back to the grid and make a profit.

5. More advertising
More advertising of sustainable initiatives around campus Macquarie University has undertaken a vast array of sustainable initiatives, but many of the students and staff are unaware of them. The university has supported, for example, Ride to Work Day, Walk to Work Day, RSPCA Cupcake Day, swap parties, shared lunches, EmPower workshops, Shoes for Planet Earth and a Student Sustainability Network. The university is Fair Trade accredited and has won Green Lifestyle awards. But these achievements and actions have not be widely advertised. Those who are aware of these things are usually the 'already initiated', those who are already environmentally conscious. Greater advertising would make the green status of the university more apparent to those who are unaware.

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