WKU will grow more environmentally friendly after being one of six schools nation-wide selected for the Green Campus Network Program this year.
The Alliance to Save Energy, a non-profit organization that has seen success with the program at 16 other universities and colleges, chose WKU as a pilot campus with the Tennessee Valley Authority funding program implementation and wages for four paid student interns.
Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan-Downing said WKU was chosen because it has already demonstrated a commitment to going green.
“It lets the average student know that sustainability and energy conservation is important here,” Ryan-Downing said. “When we get these third-party nods, it lets us know we’re on the right path.
“I would hope that students are in some way engaged in the programming or awareness that comes out of this. The best way to do that is to make everybody aware of how they can play a role.”
The ASE website states that the Green Campus Network is a classroom-to-workplace program that involves a campus-wide effort in cutting energy use, combining energy efficiency and course work and encouraging students to pursue careers in sustainability.
Two of WKU’s four ASE student interns have already been identified, and each will be tackling projects throughout the year to promote a more eco-friendly campus with advice from the ASE.
Ryan-Downing said she wants to see two things from her interns this year.
“What I hope our interns will do is just be out there doing energy awareness programming on why saving energy is important,” she said. “And secondly, how everybody can contribute to the effort.”
“The Green Campus interns can’t personally make a difference unless they can inspire other people to change their behaviors.”
Clarkson freshman Eli Heintzman is one of the interns selected to participate in the program. He wrote his application essay on eco-friendly electronic gaming.
“I’ve played games since age 5 or 6,” he said. “It was during a power outage when I was trying to plug in my TV and game system to a generator that I realized just how much energy they sucked.
“I couldn’t run anything else, so I decided to look up how much energy they used and wrote that paper. It was basically just a way to save energy while enjoying your favorite games and movies.”
Bowling Green junior Ashley McCloughan, the other selected intern, said she hoped to do a project installing more rainwater collection units in buildings across campus to help water gardens and lawns.
“We got grant money to put in big cisterns,” she said. “I’m really big on water and water cleanliness. It’s really interesting I think.”
Ryan-Downing said the success of the project will depend mostly on campus-wide involvement.
“The Alliance to Save Energy and TVA very clearly say that they want to see demonstrated results,” she said. “If everybody doesn’t help with the effort, we won’t get the results that we need.”