Claflin University is gearing up to generate a wave of green momentum on its campus in the coming months. It’s all a part of the institution’s new Environmental Sustainability Initiative that aims to reduce energy costs and Claflin’s carbon footprint.
“The biggest challenge is that people can’t connect the green movement to themselves personally. We plan to give them example of what can be done and make it more relevant to them,” said Miranda Garcia, a biology and chemistry major from Baltimore.
Garcia and other students are engaging in a campaign to educate the student body on the importance of being environmentally conscience and how they can assist in the effort. Friends of the Earth, a campus organization dedicated to preserving the environment, will host public outreach seminars, in addition to developing a way for faculty and students to measure their current carbon footprint. Later this year, the organization will host a campus block party to promote going green at Claflin.
“It’s about getting them involved in how to improve their local environmental status to contribute to overall global change,” said environmental science major Darius Stanton.
Another educational component for the program will be adding environmental activism and awareness to the curriculum for freshman orientation.
The initiative will deploy a multi-pronged approach that includes campus-wide recycling, faculty and student education and green construction for new buildings. Dr. Randall Harris, chair of the Environmental Sustainability Initiative and assistant professor of biology, said a top goal is to have all new construction receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
Another target is for residence hall’s water to be heated by solar panels, Harris said. The first solar panels were recently erected around Kleist Hall, Corson Hall and the 1869 Dining Hall.
“It’s important from a cost perspective to be able to have a campus with sustainability to lower energy costs,” Harris said.
For improving recycling, the University will elect student mentors across the campus to spearhead the effort in dormitories and amongst organizations. Harris noted the recycling efforts will focus on collecting paper, plastic, aluminum and cardboard.
The institution will assess the energy usage of each building on campus and develop avenues to individually reduce their carbon footprint. In the lab, faculty and students will reduce the use of toxic chemicals for research. And as University vehicles are retired, they will be replaced by hybrid or electric ones.
The University has replaced all garbage disposal units with specialized recycling bins.
President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale said the Environmental Sustainability Initiative demonstrated the University’s commitment to becoming a model green campus.
“The Environmental Sustainability Initiative is a visionary measure that allows Claflin University to assume a role in the global movement to combat climate change and create a better world for future generations,” he said.