An institution of higher learning’s commitment to sustainability is an increasingly important factor in students’ choice of where to attend college, and Plymouth State University continues to make efforts to make its campus and operations more sustainable. “College-bound students are increasingly interested in sustainability issues,” said Robert Franek, Senior VP/Publisher, The Princeton Review. “Among 7,445 college applicants who participated in our 2012 ‘College Hopes & Worries Survey,’ nearly 7 out of 10 (68 percent) told us that having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the school,” (Green Guide Press Release. 2012. The Princeton Review. 20 Nov. 2012. http://www.princetonreview.com/green-guide-press-release.aspx). At PSU our commitment to sustainability is strong, and our efforts involve students, staff, and faculty from all parts of the campus community.
In The Office of Environmental Sustainability at Plymouth State University we work closely with these diverse members of the campus community to meet our University goal to make Plymouth State University carbon neutral by the year 2050, and to improve our relationship with the environment as a whole. Our efforts are conducted in collaboration with faculty, staff, and students, and our project partners include the Office of Residential Life and Physical Plant, both of whom are strong supporters of sustainability. The work we do is grounded efforts to raise awareness and promote more sustainable practices on campus both in and outside of the workplace through behavior change and infrastructure improvement. Our goal is not only to make the campus more sustainable, but also to educate our faculty, staff, and students in ways to live more sustainably that will last a lifetime and extend far beyond campus.
Currently, we are working on many projects and events to achieve these goals. For example on December first we ended our annual “Do it in the Dark” season, which is an energy saving competition between residence halls, and students have saved impressive amounts of energy. This year’s winner was Belknap Hall, and residents reduced electricity consumption by almost 20% during the competition. We are hard at work on voluntary sustainability audits for residence hall rooms and a Green Office program on campus that will enable interested persons and groups to identify ways to improve their sustainability. In the spring we will participate again in Recyclemania, a national recycling competition, and for the first year PSU will also participate in the Campus Conservation Nationals, one of the first national energy reduction competitions focused on college campuses. The are just examples of a few of the activities we are engaged in, and we hope you have a chance to see you at one of our events this year.
The Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) is located in EcoHouse, and the work is conducted by the Director of OES and a number of student employees. Engaging students in experiential education through participation in campus sustainability efforts is one of the tenets used to guide the efforts of OES, and we are fortunate to work with many talented students. In the spring semester of 2013 Rebecca Webster, a graduate student in the Biology Program, is the Sustainability Fellows Coordinator, and student employees include Janelle Emerson as the Events Coordinator, Chris McCarthy as the Permaculture Coordinator, and Caitlyn Kearney as the Communications Coordinator for the OES. Justin Hurd, Keriann Ross, Patricia Manning, and Alison Savage work as sustainability fellows in OES, conducting outreach on sustainability issues in residence halls and across campus in collaboration with other offices on campus, including The Office of Residential Life. Lauren Comis and Kent Dunlevy are the student Eco House advisors in 2012-2013, and Steve Whitman and Brian Eisenhauer are co-directors of the EcoHouse project. Brian Eisenhauer has the pleasure of serving as the Director of the Office of Environmental Sustainability.
We will continue to provide resources to help the campus community be more sustainable, and if you have questions about our sustainability efforts at Plymouth State University please contact OES and we’ll do our best to respond quickly.
We look forward to working with you to achieve a sustainable Plymouth State University!