Gail Hairston

Every Day is Earth Day at UK

Published: Apr 8, 2013

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Video by UK Public Relations and Marketing. 

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 8, 2013) — Although there is only one Earth Day observed every year in April, the University of Kentucky actually celebrates its sustainability initiatives throughout the month and remembers its commitments to the university and the community every day of the year.

 

Advancements in ensuring a better world for future generations have been made in virtually every area of the campus community, from improved management of its facilities, to the advancements in its research labs, and to sharing these goals in the classrooms.

 

“Through our energy conservation efforts, including our Campus Energy Savings Project and the enhancements of our Delta Room where energy consumption is monitored continuously, UK saves more than $5 million annually,” said Shane Tedder, sustainability coordinator for UK.

 

The Campus Energy Savings Project includes changing old lighting technology to a more energy efficient design, replacing high flow plumbing fixtures with low flow design, and upgrading existing mechanical HVAC systems in 61 buildings on campus. Electrical consumption constitutes the largest percentage of UK's carbon footprint and the Campus Energy Savings Project reduced the university’s electrical consumption by 11.2 percent in those buildings, while steam usage was reduced by 29.1 percent and domestic water by 14.5 percent. The project will save 19,811 US tons of CO2 on an annual basis. Watch a video explaining how the project works.

 

The Delta Room is a sophisticated manned control center that monitors the university’s energy usage 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  It centrally controls lighting and temperature in the majority of campus buildings using conservation techniques when the buildings are not in use.  

 

In addition to several panel discussions and the numerous experts brought to campus to address sustainability issues with the campus community, the Office of Sustainability this year expanded its support of two-wheeled transportation with bike safety programs, bike lanes on city streets near campus and additional bike repair stations. It also launched this year an expanded outdoor recycling pilot project and a new recycling coordinator was recently added to the Facilities Management staff.

 

“Via pilot projects, we hope to transition to single stream recycling rather than source separated as is currently in place and to increase our composting efforts,” Tedder said.

 

This year, the President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee has tackled such issues as the role sustainability will play in the upcoming selection of a food service provider for UK, the development of a Climate Action Plan for the university, the inclusion of sustainability issues in UK’s revised Master Plan, and ideas for integrating sustainability into the curricular and co-curricular experience.

 

The Student Sustainability Council has also been active, expanding old conservation projects while also developing new ones. The council was formed to supervise the distribution of the Environmental Stewardship Fee, in order to responsibly advance the theory, practice and reality of sustainability at UK. Its 2012-13 funded projects included expanded outdoor recycling in heavily traveled areas such as the Student Center and the William T, Young Library, 22 water bottle-filling stations, a campuswide sustainability survey, Earth Days in the Bluegrass events, an environmental issues spring event, support of a Political Ecology Working Group Conference and support of other events and activities.

 

Much of the year’s work of these groups and individuals culminates in the monthlong celebration of Earth Day. Nearly every day in April features a speaker, a forum, a film, a workshop, or a summit that focuses on a sustainable future for the university, the state, the nation and the world. For a complete calendar of events, including the popular annual Earth Day Fair on April 22, visit http://www.sustainability.uky.edu/edbg.

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