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Minnesota State Colleges and Universities: Survey shows campuses making effort to go 'green'

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Minnesota State Colleges and Universities released the results of a survey that documented sustainability practices being done across the system.

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The survey, part of the board of trustees' initiative to promote sustainability, is the first thorough assessment of how resources are used and preserved on the system's campuses.

Sustainability means using resources in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Examples of sustainable measures reported by campuses included scheduling classes to increase energy efficiency, lowering water consumption, purchasing local foods, composting food waste, using nontoxic cleaning products and reducing carbon emissions.

Buildings

Ninety percent of the system's institutions purchase green building materials and are working to improve indoor air quality. Nearly 60 percent schedule classes to maximize energy efficiency and 82 percent have an active preventive maintenance program. Eighty-nine percent of the colleges and universities use lighting sensors and energy management systems to control heating and cooling operations and 92 percent use timers for temperature control.

While 62 percent track energy consumption, only 26 percent have an energy conservation plan.

Water use

Nearly 70 percent have taken steps to lower water consumption and 54 percent have policies or programs to reduce storm water runoff and prevent storm water pollution. More than a quarter use landscaping materials that do not require watering.

Food

Fifty-six percent of the institutions use non-disposable dishes and avoid serving food that contains transfats and 49 percent use napkins with recycled content. Thirty-eight percent also purchase locally-produced foods, while 8 percent have food waste composting programs.

Recycling and waste management

Ninety-five percent have an electronic recycling or reuse program, 77 percent have a general recycling policy and 69 percent offer course catalogues and other materials online. Twenty-one percent also help students reduce waste when they move out of residential halls.

Transportation

Thirty-eight percent have a campus bus service, 87 percent are on a public transit route and 41 percent provide subsidized bus passes. Relatively few campuses have ride share programs, reserved parking for carpoolers, a bicycle-sharing program or parking fee discounts for carpoolers.

Landscaping

Sixty-nine percent compost lawn and landscaping clippings and materials, 51 percent protect and create wildlife habitats and 54 percent are reducing environmental impacts on snow and ice removal.

Culture

Fifty-nine percent of the institutions are involved with surrounding communities on sustainability practices and 54 percent have student groups focused on sustainability.

Purchasing

Purchases take into account the entire life cycle of products. Eighty-two percent of the campuses purchase green cleaning products, 67 percent use office paper with recycled content, and 44 percent buy environmentally preferable computers.

Carbon emissions

Forty-one percent have completed a greenhouse gas inventory and 64 percent use areas of landscaping to sequester carbon.

Research programs

Thirty-eight percent of the institutions have faculty involved in sustainability research and 59 percent have developed ways to identify sustainable courses.

Full report

The full report can be found online at www.facilities.mnscu.edu./facilities/studies/docs/Sustainability_report2....

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