Eastern Michigan University named one of nation's most eco-friendly campuses according to Princeton Review's Guide to green colleges

by Debra Johnson, Published April 25, 2012


YPSILANTI - Not only is green one of Eastern Michigan University's school colors, but thanks to its efforts with green initiatives, Eastern ranks as one of the top green colleges in the country, according to Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges.

A total of 322 schools with eco-friendly campuses made the list. To compile the guide, Princeton Review gave each college a "green rating" score based on data from a 50-question survey conducted among hundreds of school administrators about their schools' environmental and sustainability related commitments and green initiatives.

The survey rated 768 schools, and the guide includes those that received scores of 83 or higher. It examined a variety of eco-minded topics including LEED certified buildings, clean energy use, recycling programs and environmental studies programs. The guide does not rank the schools hierarchically (1 to 322) according to their green rating score, nor does it report the scores in the profiles.

"Sustainability and 'green' efforts have a double benefit for us," said Walter Kraft, vice president for communications. "Current and prospective students are more interested than ever in sustainability initiatives - they want to be at an institution that considers its environmental footprint. Secondly, investments in sustainability also benefit the bottom line in terms of reducing expenses for utility costs."

Targeted audiences for the Guide to Green Colleges are green-minded high school juniors and seniors who are interested in attending a college with both a solid academic program as well as a comprehensive sustainability plan.

Steve Moore, a certified energy manager, spearheads Eastern's green initiatives. Moore, hired in 2008, is the university's energy and sustainability manager. He also has LEED  (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. "Determining the needs on campus for new and expanded green initiatives was one of my top priorities," said Moore.

To help facilitate these efforts, EMU partnered with Chevron Energy Solutions, a recognized leader in innovative, clean energy development. Through this collaboration, several energy-saving projects were completed:  

  • Replaced 727 windows in Brown and Munson residential halls with new insulated and energy efficient windows.
  • Installed a new boiler plant in Dining Commons III to replace a failing steam feed from the Heating Plant.
  • Converted a steam heating system in Wise Hall to a new hot water heating system. Installation included new heating elements in each dorm room, new heat exchangers, new pumps and controls.

The result from these improvements - a savings of over $230,000 in utility energy costs per year.

The Everett L. Marshall Building was the first earth-friendly or 'green' building built on Eastern's campus back in 2000. The building was designed to provide a healthy environment for learning without negatively impacting the environment. All of the building materials and furnishings were chosen for their environmental sustainability using recycled or renewable materials. Marshall is home to the College of Health & Human Services.

Green technologies were also incorporated into the renovations and additions made to the Mark Jefferson Science Complex, including applying for LEED certification. "In the bathrooms alone, there is energy-efficient lighting, motion sensors to turn off the lights when not needed, low flow urinals and faucets, dual flush toilets, and hand dryers instead of paper towel dispensers," said Moore.

"The rooftop garden added to Mark Jefferson acts as an insulator, helping the building stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, saving EMU about $3,600 in energy costs per year," said Moore.  

Mark Jefferson and renovations to Pray-Harrold integrated other green initiatives, such as chilled beams for cooling, sensors to control lights and temperature settings, heat recovery, and lighting control systems. "Even though we added about 33 percent of additional square footage to Mark Jefferson, we don't anticipate seeing an increase in energy costs, once the project is completed," said Moore.

EMU also participates in the Energy Star challenge, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. The goal? Improve the energy efficiency of EMU's facilities and buildings by 10 percent or more.

Other notable energy conservation projects and initiatives completed on campus include:

  • Installation of a gas turbine, located in EMU's heating plant, that uses natural gas to cogenerate electricity and heat, which is converted into steam to provide hot water to many campus buildings. Running the turbine for 80 percent of the year is estimated to reduce more than 14,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - the equivalent of removing 2,326 vehicles off of the road each year.
  • Over 260 recycling bins for paper and plastic were placed in each building on campus, including student housing and athletic facilities, diverting almost 300 tons of waste from landfills. The amount recycled has increased by 80 percent since 2009.
  • An on-campus compactor reservoir has eliminated the need to haul recyclable materials on a daily basis - cutting down on CO2 emissions.
  • 300 trees have been planted on EMU's campus over the past two years.

EMU has also focused on green academic training. Preparation for careers in sustainability can start with classes such as GEOG 150 (sustainable development), through the geography and geology department or CNST 440 (LEED new construction applications), a class offered through the construction management curriculum.

In addition, educational seminars through the Faculty Development Center are available to EMU's faculty on teaching strategies for integrating concepts of sustainability into course curriculums.

"We take great pride in the green initiatives we have made across Eastern Michigan University's campus," Kraft said. "In terms of cost savings and providing an eco-friendly campus, it's a win-win for us and our students."

The Princeton Review's guide is published in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council. For a complete list of all colleges in the guide, visit the Princeton Review's Guide to 322 Green College's homepage.




Debra Johnson

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