Sustainability takes center stage on Baylor campus

Graphic by Michael Bain | Lariat photographer
Graphic by Michael Bain | Lariat photographer
By Rae Jefferson

After being recognized by the Sierra Club for its green efforts, Baylor Sustainability seems to be on a roll and defying environmental obstacles of all kinds, but the biggest challenge may be yet to come — the re-education of the Baylor community on sustainable living.

This semester brings new approaches to facilitating practical methods of fulfilling the mission of the Department of Sustainability. Smith Getterman, assistant director of sustainability and special projects, said the department’s approach to sustainable practices will appeal to any lifestyle.

“We’re just trying to engage and educate the community about how we live our life here on campus, whether we work or literally live here,” Getterman said.

This year marked the university’s first appearance on the Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” list, which recognizes colleges and universities with notable environmental practices.

Baylor also celebrated increased numbers in recycling on move-in day. In just two days, a previously held record of 24,000 pounds was exceeded by more than 4 tons.

According to Getterman, the Baylor campus and all sporting events have become Styrofoam-free due to the high costs of recycling the material, which has been replaced by plastic. The department is emphasizing practical sustainable practices like taking on-campus shuttles or riding bikes instead of driving, recycling more consistently, conserving water with shorter showers and turning off lights and electronics to save electricity.

“We are in charge of making sure Baylor is being responsible and doing the right thing with those resources,” Getterman said.

Curtis Odle, assistant director of facilities and operations for Campus Living and Learning, said residence halls are taking measures to help establish a more green campus.

All halls are fitted with mixed recycling containers so that students are not responsible for sorting materials. The containers are meant for materials such as aluminum, paper and plastic. Residence halls do not accept glass, Odle said.

Campus Living and Learning has partnered with Baylor Facility Services to host an annual energy challenge that urges residence halls to save the most energy each semester, Odle said. The challenge, called “Baylor Energy Madness,” is monitored by Baylor Facility Services.

Faculty and staff have not been forgotten by Baylor Sustainability’s support for basic environmental care, Getterman said. Departments are being encouraged by Baylor Sustainability to take excess office supplies to an office supply exchange that is scheduled this September. Getterman said this event allows faculty and staff to swap unused supplies and decrease waste.

Baylor’s newest residence hall, East Village, was built with sustainability in mind from the beginning, Odle said. The hall is fitted with occupancy-sensor lights that turn off when rooms are empty, as well as landscaping that includes native plants that do not pose a threat to local ecosystems, Odle said.

Measures were also taken by the university to ensure all recyclable materials were collected.

East Village, which consists of Earle Hall and Teal Residential College, has been given the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, which was administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. Odle said the newly constructed buildings have been given the Silver LEED certification, which is the second-highest possible.

Odle said the responsibility of caring for campus resources and the environment falls on everyone. Students should be more aware of turning off lights and using less water, he said.

“The little things make a difference,” Odle said.