SRU’s sustainability efforts capture national award
July 1, 2015
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University has won the 2015 APPA Sustainability Award in Facilities Management for its efforts in reducing waste, lessening greenhouse gases and demonstrating leadership in green building design, recycling and educational programs for students and community residents.
The award recognizes SRU's 26 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2005, 40 percent improvement in campus energy efficiency and achievement of LEED certification for six residence halls and the Smith Student Center. Other noted accomplishments include the creation of a campus sustainability features map and implementation of an Energy Action Pledge and Climate Action Plan.
"This national APPA award, once again, demonstrates Slippery Rock University's institutionwide commitment to sustainability," said Paul Scanlon, SRU special assistant to the president. "We are making progress on all fronts, including long-term goals.
Facilities management staff has taken a leadership role in the University's plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2037. We began dramatically reducing campus energy use through whole-building, energy-efficient renovations and the replacement of aging buildings more than 10 years ago, and continue to implement additional conservation measures as the opportunity arises and new technologies emerge."
APPA is an Alexandria, Va.- based organization engaged in the field of educational facilities management and educational leadership. It was formerly known as The Association of Physical Plant Administrators.
The award will be presented Aug. 4 at the APPA 2015 Conference and Exhibition in Chicago and will be included in an upcoming issue of Facilities Manager magazine.
Scanlon completed the nomination paperwork with Scott Albert, SRU assistant vice president of facilities and planning. The two submitted information about SRU's educational curriculum and research, leadership and administration, maintenance and operations, energy and utility, planning and construction and sustainability indicators.
In some cases, Scanlon said, success is in the seemingly small details, such as purchasing a Green Seal Certified hand soap system, installing green roofs and installing a solar-powered rainwater and collection system. SRU has established the practice of not using potable water in its six irrigation systems, so "water usage for irrigation is effectively zero," he said.
"Bio swales, rain gardens, pervious parking lot paving and a green roof were installed in the Smith Student Center to demonstrate how we can retain rainwater and minimize water contaminates admitted to the storm sewer," he said
The waste management plan has diverted tons of waste from landfills, even though enrollment and campus facilities have grown, Scanlon said. SRU collects and sells scrap metal, and recycles e-waste, paper and plastics.
In February, SRU topped 1 million pounds of scrap metal collected and recycled since 2000. By reselling old pipes and fixtures, the University raised $130,474 to support campus grounds and facilities costs for landscaping and other projects.
SRU keeps more than 300 tons of material out of landfills annually. In 2014, SRU recycled 106 tons of paper, 66 tons of cardboard, 52 tons of cans and bottles and 21 tons of electronics.
One of the hallmarks of sustainability success, Scanlon said, is public educational outreach. SRU's Sustainability office (http://www.sru.edu/about/sustainability) works alongside community organizations to help residents implement recycling and support local growers. SRU'S Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator mentors students and helps local businesses. SRU Holds a communitywide leaf collection program that results in 54 tons of leaves being composted, Scanlon said.
The University's efforts extend to animal preservation and landscaping stewardship. More than 200 acres of campus has been assigned Audubon Society Wildlife Sanctuary status. More than 190 acres of the campus are woodlands and forest.
Grounds crews practice plant stewardship by pruning trees and preventing invasive species such as ivy growing up buildings, Scanlon said. New tree plantings include native species such as maples and oaks.
"Each year, new perennials are planted to reduce the need for annuals to the extent possible while maintaining the desired aesthetic of campus," Scanlon said. "For planter beds, local bark is used with stone river rock used to reduce the amount of mulch required each year."
Sustainability efforts have helped the University achieve a silver rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. SRU is included in the Princeton Review's Guide to 322 Green Colleges, the Sierra Club's Top 100 Cool Schools and ranked 43rd in the world in the Green Metric World University 2014 survey conducted by the University of Indonesia.
Long-term planning incorporates recycling and conservation. Trend 5 of SRU "Reaching for 2025 and Beyond" strategic plan emphasizes recycling as resource utilization. SRU enacted a Climate Action Plan for achieving carbon neutrality by 2037.
The Office of Sustainability serves as the umbrella organization charged with documenting SRU's sustainability efforts and monitoring progress toward SRU's goals, while the President's Commission on Sustainability includes representatives of the entire community and advises the President on recommended initiatives aimed at greening the culture of both the campus and the community.
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