'Green' initiatives are a go in campus facilities

March 15, 2002 4:18 p.m.

Walk up to a soda machine on campus these days and you might think it saw you coming.

In a sense, it has. The machine, at first dark and quiet, seems to wake up; the lights turn on; the refrigerator starts humming. It's nothing spooky -- just an energy-saving device installed by the facilities department.

The device is one of many initiatives, ranging from simple adjustments to large-scale programs, aimed at easing the University's impact on the environment and, in most cases, saving it money.

"For as long as I've been here -- 25 years -- we've had a fairly aggressive conservation program," said Michael McKay, general manager of plant and services in the facilities department.

Some of the significant environmental measures are being undertaken as part of new building projects on campus. The new graduate student housing planned for construction next to the Lawrence Apartments, for example, will use geothermal heat pumps, said Tom Nyquist, director of engineering. Many "green" elements also are planned for a new dorm that is scheduled for construction between Elm Drive and Scully Hall.

Across the campus, many buildings also are being retrofitted with energy-saving devices, said Nyquist. Acting on the recommendations of a lighting consultant, the University is slowly changing all of its fluorescent fixtures to more efficient units. The many hundreds of exit signs that used to burn 40-watt bulbs are being replaced with light-emitting diodes that use two to four watts and operate all day.

The full story can be read in the Weekly Bulletin.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601