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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Local campuses thinking green

From an article by K.J. Lang in the La Crosse Tribune:

Although it’s winter, local college campuses look greener than ever.

La Crosse campuses are promoting recycling and energy conservation initiatives this year.

“In my eyes, the best place to set an example for everyone else in the community is at a university,” said Matt Groshek, a University of Wisconsin-La Crosse senior and environmental sustainability director for the UW-L Student Association.

UW-L students voted last year to tag an additional $5 per semester onto tuition for a Green Fund for renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects.

Chancellor Joe Gow also signed the Talloires Declaration, a 10-point plan committing the university to environmental issues. One point was to set up practices of resource conservation, recycling, waste reduction and environmentally sound operations.

Sustainability efforts since have snowballed, said Groshek.

“The environmental crisis on a national level hits home,” he said. “Students look around and say, ‘What can we do?’”

UW-L is competing in Recyclemania, a challenge among colleges and universities nationwide to see which campus can reduce, reuse and recycle the most campus waste from Jan. 18 to March 28.

UW-L now ranks 183rd among 287 colleges and universities, recycling an average of about 2 pounds per person over two weeks, according to the Recyclemania Web site.

UW-L residence halls are taking on the “Chancellor’s Energy Challenge” to see which hall can conserve the most energy in one month through March 8. A tree will be planted on campus to honor the winning hall.

“The biggest challenge to making conservation changes are getting people to look at the decisions they make on a daily basis a little differently,” said Dan Sweetman, environmental and sustainability program manager at UW-L.

Another La Crosse campus has ramped up its efforts to conserve energy and recycle as well.

Recycling has increased each month since Viterbo University doubled the number of recycle bins and color coded them on campus in August, said Dennis Kolb, assistant director of Viterbo’s physical plant. The university also decided to turn down all building thermostats a few notches to 69 degrees this semester to save energy, he said.

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