Taking steps to reduce carbon footprint

By Brittany McLeod
August 28, 2008

With the current green trend sweeping the nation, colleges and universities are jumping on the bandwagon and taking steps towards reducing their carbon footprints.

In April 2008, the presidents of more than 520 public and private institutions had signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment. Each college commits to develop a budget that will account for all carbon-emissions-associated campus operations and a long-term plan for balancing that budget to achieve carbon neutrality, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Cabrini was not on that list.

Still, according to the New York Times, as colleges and universities rush to declare themselves green, some higher education officials worry that campuses are taking easy steps to win the label rather than doing the work that would actually reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. Instead of actually benefiting the environment, colleges have used the new “green rating” in the Princeton Review’s annual guide to college as a publicity stunt.

The process of going green can be a costly one. For example, the private, nonprofit Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, otherwise known as LEED, is the leader in environmental building. But instead of going through the expensive process, the majority of schools believe they can follow LEED’s principles to build green.

LEED’s certification is based upon a point distribution for elements that promote sustainability and a greener lifestyle. These enhancements can be added without the campus needing to be certified “green.”

Cabrini has begun to implement a number of green features, including the recycling bins throughout campus. Cabrini dining services, provided by Sodexo, has also taken a number of steps.

This year, Sodexo has integrated a new system called APEX from Ecolab that tracks the actual usage of cafeteria materials compared to how much should be used. To save water and energy, the cafeteria has gone tray-less and the new napkin dispensers reduce paper waste.

“We no longer have trays, which reduces about 200 gallons of water per meal period,” Drew Niemann, general manager of Cabrini dining services, said. This summer, the staff experienced a training program about sustainability and plan to enhance the course of “going green” over the fall.

As the year progresses, expect to see a more noticeable change in the dining hall, with organic and local produce and posters and pictures all around the cafeteria advertising a more sustainable outlook. According to one: Cabrini Dining Services- Buys Local, Buys Organic and Supports Sustainability. All coffees supplied are a part of the Rainforest Alliance and the majority is Fair-Trade Certified. The fish are farm-raised and produce is shipped from no more than 150 miles away.

As menus pop up around the eatery, a red symbol will indicate locally supplied items, a green symbol will indicate organic items and a blue flower will indicate sustainable items supplied.

“It’s not so much as we’re going green, we’re doing a lot of things to be sustainable,” Dan Sorrels of Ecolab said. Sorrels is handling the switch over to the Apex system in the cafeteria kitchen. With the switch, dining services now uses environmentally-friendly detergents and chemicals.

Another change that may not be noticed but has major energy savings is the new lighting provided in Jazzman’s. All light bulbs are now energy efficient ones that can considerably reduce energy use.

Though not advertised, changes are taking place throughout Cabrini to reduce its carbon footprint.

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Brittany McLeod

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