The Storrs campus bled blue during
the second week of April, when both men's and women's basketball
teams won national championships. Starting Thursday - Earth
Day - it will begin to turn green.
University officials this week will launch a wide-ranging environmental
policy that sets siting and building guidelines for new construction
and campus renovations, conserves energy and water resources,
further encourages recycling, and increases efforts to improve
environmental literacy among students, faculty and staff.
The policy, which took a year in the making, was endorsed by
University President Philip E. Austin and other top UConn officials
last week. It will be announced during Earth Day activities
April 22. Officials say it will be an ongoing process.
"Every year, we will develop new ideas, action plans, to
make this a greener campus," says Richard Miller, UConn's
director of environmental policy. "We want everybody to
rethink how we live our lives when we're here, how we conduct
business on campus, to become more aware of environmental issues,
and be more responsible in our personal environmental behavior."
The policy and other information can be viewed on a new website,
EcoHusky.UConn.edu, and it will soon be accessible from the
University's e-policy website. It was spearheaded by the Environmental
Policy Advisory Council, a 25-member group composed of faculty,
staff, undergraduate and graduate students, and alumni. The
group began meeting in May 2003 and, several months later, added
three subcommittees - comprised almost entirely of different
people - to refine the draft policy and begin devising implementation
and action strategies.
The final blueprint lists seven environmental sustainability
and outreach initiatives for the coming year. In each area,
the committee identified a set of action items.
"The University is committed to environmental quality,
both on our own campus and in the wider community," said
University President Philip Austin. "Thanks to UConn 2000
and 21st Century UConn, and to some exceptionally dedicated
faculty, students, and staff, we are well positioned to take
several major steps forward. The committee presents some excellent
recommendations, and I value their guidance."
The EPAC and its three subcommittees - compliance and best practices,
land use and sustainable development, and environmental outreach
- will continue to meet in order to plan and implement the initiatives,
Miller says. New members from the UConn community are welcome
on the subcommittees.
"The subcommittees and work groups they've created will
identify opportunities where the University can improve its
environmental performance and reach out to the community,"
Miller says. "We've already accomplished quite a bit, and
we're expecting to see continuing improvements. Now we have
to start looking for more complex solutions."
The short list, Miller says, includes implementing UConn's Climate
Change Action Plan to quantify and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
at UConn. One measure involves installing campus-wide software,
which was provided and will be maintained free of charge through
a grant from the state Department of Public Works. The 'sleeper'
software will find and shut down any of the about 15,000 computers
on campus that have been left on overnight. University Information
Technology Services is currently conducting a pilot program
with the software, which, if it shut down 10,000 computers,
would save the University up to $500,000 a year, and reduce
the emissions that result from energy generation.
"When running, a computer uses between 120 and 180 watts,"
says Miller. "If the monitor is asleep, that falls to 65
to 95 watts, and if the entire PC is turned off, it uses only
2 to 5 watts. From an environmental standpoint, using the software
company's figure of 10,000 computers - although this is probably
more than are left running at UConn - the emissions reductions
are the equivalent of taking 500 cars off the road."
Meanwhile, within the next few days, an EcoHusky student awareness
campaign will begin, urging students leaving for the summer
to separate and deposit in bins their broken computers, printers,
televisions, radios, and other electronic devices, rather than
discard them in trash cans. Campaign volunteers will also collect
working electronic devices and clothing left behind by students
and donate them to the Windham Area Interfaith Ministries or
Covenant Soup Kitchen.
In addition, an environmentally friendly, non-spill coffee mug
will be sold across campus as an alternative to the laminated
cups now used in dining halls and campus cafés. On-campus
eateries will discount coffee and other hot drinks sold to students,
faculty, and staff using the cup.
Miller says the community drinks from and discards 10,000 non-recyclabl
e laminated coffee cups each month. And although the UConn community
recycles 825 tons of material each year, that represents only
a portion of what can be done, he says.
"We set a goal of increasing the amount of sorted recycled
material by 5 percent during the next year," Miller said.
"If we attain that it would increase our recycling collections
by 40 tons. That not only helps the environment, it should also
lower our costs, as UConn will not have to pay for the vendor
to sort the waste."