Posted on 07 September 2011.
University officials said they are looking at ways to cut out wastefulness, but some students and faculty members said they want the university’s sustainability projects to be more focused.
“All the time I see lights on in buildings at night, and even the sprinklers will be on when it is raining,” sophomore chemistry major Kaitlynn Brooks said. “If we stopped doing things like that then I think we’ll be fine.”
Director of the Center for Urban Ecology Tim Carter said the university is always looking to find ways to cut out wastefulness.
Carter pointed toward new energy audit results for Butler that were taken by the center to calculate the university’s carbon emissions. They show that Butler’s emissions were slightly less than other universities similar in size.
“The fact that we set up this study was a great first step,” Carter said. “Now we can figure out how we can be more efficient with our energy use. The next step, I would hope, would be for President [Jim] Danko to set up a sustainability committee to try to eliminate unnecessary waste.”
The research shows that Butler’s emissions for 2009 were about 27,522 net megatons of carbon dioxide.
This is less than Depauw University, which has an enrollment about half Butler’s size but emitted 38,716 megatons. Data also show that 61 percent of all of Butler’s energy use comes from electricity.
When asked for information on the cost of Butler’s electricity consumption, vice president of operations
Gerald Carlson said the information was not readily available. But he said that consumption has decreased, which is what the university tends to focus on instead of costs.
“Our consumption has been recently going down,” Carlson said. “Natural gas prices have been going up, so that is not really our concern. If consumption goes down, then we know we did things right.”
Carlson said the university is working to cut down on unnecessary consumption by encouraging students to engage in more environmentally friendly habits.
“There are some night lights that stay on outside for safety reasons,” Carlson said. “Some students study in the buildings at night, and when they leave, they do not always turn off the lights. We want to try to change student habits by putting signs in the doorways, but we do not always succeed.”
Carlson added that the university wants to move away from using steam to heat buildings, instead using hot water, which requires less natural gas to heat. So far, Irwin Library has been converted, and this year plans are for Clowes Memorial Hall to be converted as well.
Water consumption is currently not tracked at Butler, but Carlson said that it is something he expects the university will do soon.
Carlson said that it is the job of the facilities engineer to keep track of utility usage, but that position has been vacant for two and a half years.
“We do not really track water consumption, but we would like to in the near future,” Carlson said. “It is one of our goals to start.”
Administrators also implemented the PrintSmart system during the 2010-2011 school year to decrease wasteful printing.
The system allots a certain number of printing credits for each student and informs students of how their printing affects the environment.
Project Manager Tyler Johnston said administrators were originally planning to charge students this year if they went over their printing limit but decided against it.
“Last year was a pilot,” Johnston said, “but once we implemented it, we saw a huge decrease in printing, so I said, ‘Maybe we should not charge the students.’ If we can keep the printing low then we will not have to put charging in.”
Information provided by Johnston shows that the year before PrintSmart was implemented, during 2009-2010, there were an estimated 5.1 million pages printed by all students. But the year PrintSmart was installed, there were 3.7 million pages printed.
“Our goal was to curb the blatant disregard of waste and money by students,” Johnston said.
Johnston did not have information on the cost of the PrintSmart program, but said that it was reasonable compared to other alternatives.
“I would say it is cheaper and less expensive than other programs,” Johnston said.
General construction maintenance manager Craig Hardee said that he thinks the university would be most effective in minimizing its environmental impact by setting up a sustainability program.
“If we had a director of sustainability, then we would have a centralized and more focused effort to make a bigger gain instead of several different people trying to do the same thing,” Hardee said.
Carter said he believes that the only way to get Butler to improve its environmental status is by focusing on students.
“Getting students to drive environmental initiatives would be the most effective,” Carter said. “They are the ones who drive the university.”