University recognized for sustainability

Rebekah Alvey

WKU received the 2016 Environmental Sustainability Award sponsored by Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center for the best efforts toward sustainability in the state.

The award, accepted by Chief Facilities Officer Bryan Russell on Thursday, Oct. 27, is given to companies that have demonstrated environmental sustainability and have reduced energy consumption. WKU has been involved with KPPC over the years by presenting and even hosting conferences on sustainability, drawing attention to the numerous projects on campus.

Since 2008, energy has been reduced by approximately 5.3 kilowatts/hour/sq. foot. This is a major feat considering more space and buildings have been added to the campus.

According to Russell this has saved about $1.3 million per year. The reduction in energy has come from replacing older light fixtures with LED lights in large areas like parking structures and Diddle arena. Added motion sensors also save energy used for heat and light.

Other departments, like the WKU Office of Sustainability, also contributed in earning the award.

“The award recognizes all of our work from energy, waste reduction, landscaping and student initiatives,” Coordinator Christian Ryan said.

The Office of Sustainability where Ryan and others work is even modeled as an environmentally sustainable home, which is a model for the initiative. The house is run on solar panels, features energy efficient appliances and has a completely edible landscape with the creation of the community garden.

Recycling also played a key role in the award. According to Beth Gafford, coordinator of the recycling and surplus department, through the Gameday Recycling Challenge alone, 13,000 pounds of recyclable material were saved from landfills.

Gafford said it was an honor to be recognized by the KPPC which is a part of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering at the University of Louisville.

“We have a lot of respect for what they are doing and they are leaders in the state,” Gafford said.

As a part of the award from KPPC, WKU facility and sustainability staff met and collaborated with staff at U of L. Gafford said, in many ways, receiving the award is an incentive to continue programs in sustainability, and there are already projects in the works like initiatives for food recovery.

Reporter Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].