UNK: Earth Friendly Campus

Renee Ballenger

Recycling is a word often used to encompass a wide range of activities, and has been one component of activities that make up solid waste management or, the planning for and management of the materials and volumes that make up the solid waste stream. In the recycling and conservation circles, these various activities are summarized as the Five R’s:


At UNK, there are formidable programs to assist employees in recycling paper, aluminum cans, cardboard, ink and toner cartridges, batteries, motor oil, scrap metal, electronics equipment and more.

The many departments who are saving on the resource of paper by electronically- distributing their regular newsletters, are to be applauded, like Flash Points out of the Vice Chancellor of Business and Finance office; eNews from Academic Affairs; the Monday Morning Bulletin, courtesy of the Dean of the College of Natural Sciences; and the Library’s In Brief publication, to name a few.

Regularly, during Blue and Gold Week move in, the Facilities Department sets fences to capture the large volumes of cardboard cast off from these days of move-in activity. During move-out, Facilities coordinates with local charities to borrow trailers to store furniture, clothes, electronics and food for use by others.

Complete details on drop-off points around campus and how these efforts can easily become part of your daily work routine can be found at www.unk.edu/offices/facilities.aspx?id=13436

In just the past year, UNK implemented an on-line travel system which is anticipated to reduce paper consumption and improve staff efficiencies. Fifty percent of campus is using this system currently and the goal is to h C ave 100 percent usage by the end of 2009. Your department’s office manager or t should know how to utilize this pr can learn more about it by contacting Joan DeHaven in the Finance Office.

Also, UNK has virtualized approximately 25 Information Technology servers. In other words, we have recently eliminated 25 physical servers and replaced them with two more efficient servers, reducing powe consumption and increasing heating/cooling efficiency. At the same time, CRT processors have been eliminat labs and replaced with more efficient flat panels.

A number of plant efficiencies have been incorporated as standard operating pr campus. For instance, older mot ious spots on campus are being replaced with high efficiency motors, as budget allows. More time clocks are now, instead, photo cells, controlling exterior lighting. Mostly cycled-air handling units are purchased and installed anymore as these kinds of equipment manage peak efficiency times better. Water tanks are being replaced with instantaneous water heaters. Steam lines are insulated which adds up to significant savings of cost and energy. “Moreover,” Lee McQueen, Director of Facilities, adds, “we expect the new central plant boilers to be about 15 percent more efficient in using natural gas, as compared to the existing steam boilers.” Additionally, thermostats can be reset at a reduced setting at night and on weekends. Gradually, all incandescent bulbs are being replaced with fluorescent bulbs.

UNK is one of the partners taking advantage of a rebate program from Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD). This program helped the Utilities crew within the Facilities Department to update light fixtures throughout AO Thomas with T8 fluorescent lamps (1 inch diameter), which are significantly more efficient than T12 lamps (1 1/2 inch diameter). Next on their list for more earth-friendly lighting installation, is the West Center.

New light fixtures in Bruner are also T8’s, and using occupancy sensors. Antelope and Nester are fitted with high-efficiency lighting, and also noteworthy on the subject of conservation, these residence halls are equipped with low-flow sink faucets and showerheads.

On another lighting note, when new exit signs are needed, the standard product is an LED (lower energy/longer life) sign. In existing exit signs, too, incandescent lamps are all being replaced with LED lamps.

Facilities Operations has begun working with cleaning products that are Green Seal-certified in the academic buildings, and this program will soon be expanded to Residential Life buildings. Also, have you noticed the new paper towel and toilet paper dispensers in campus bathrooms? These pieces of equipment are doing more than sporting Loper blue. They control the spread of germs by their “non-touch” feature. They are designed to conserve on usage and so, will pay for themselves.

“The encouraging thing about recycling and conservation efforts,” McQueen suggests, “is that even the ‘little things’ make a significant difference. One great example, I think, is that our Grounds crew leaves grass clippings on site, which in addition to labor savings, also reduces the need for fertilizer.”

Directly due to the efforts of UNK physics professors Mike Larsen and Dave Amstutz, the most recent acquisition to UNK’s development as an earth-friendly campus is their successful application to Environmental Protection Agency for UNK to house and maintain an EPA Air Monitoring Station on top of Bruner Hall of Science, at no cost to the university. In exchange for having the monitor, periodically changing filters, and downloading data, UNK faculty and students will have access to a wealth of data from this station and others around the country for scientific study

Finally, Vice Chancellor Barbara Johnson, recently met with some of the members of the 2009-10 student body government to talk about their perspectives and ideas on UNK’s participation and potential in “green” efforts and programs. From that meeting, a comprehensive research project was initiated in which students will be investigating these subjects at all levels of campus, including student activity, as well as employee programs and how some faculty are incorporating such current events into their curricula. One objective of this project is to indicate an accurate definition of “green” programming for the UNK community, specifically.