BC moves towards sustainability

Photo Courtesy of http://applecenter.org/

Two weeks ago, those new recycling bins have been a presence in the cafeteria. They seem like regular recycling containers , but really they are special receptacles dedicated for composting, and are a step BC is taking toward becoming completely sustainable.

The composting receptacles are for cafeteria food containers, cups, lids, and food itself.

They are the biodegradable substances that can be diverted from the landfill and turned into compost. There are four new clearly labeled receptacles in the cafeteria with options for recycling, composting, and trash.

The goal, of course, is for BC to become more sustainable by lessening the amount of waste sent to the landfill.

“The major goal of composting is to reduce the amount of solid waste our campus generates,” wrote ASG Environmental and Social Responsibility Representative Megan Phan in a sustainability newsletter.

“By composting organic waste we are returning nutrients back into the soil in order for the cycle of life to continue instead of throwing them into the landfill where all the garbage typically goes.”

BC has other projects moving towards becoming sustainable as well, including charging statiosn for electronic vehicles, a student garden, and the Transportation Management Plan – “The sustainability Initiative assued that BC stull offers an ORCA pass and is expanding services for students who bicycle and carpool to campus,” explained Deric Gruen, the Sustainability and Resource Constervation Manager on campus.

There are some classes on campus directed towards sustainability, too. “We have a part-time faculty member dedicated to infusing sustainability into the curriculum at BC,” said Gruen.

BC has been working towards sustainability for a while now. Phan said, “One of the most impactful steps that BC took to become more sustainable was in 2008, when a few passionate students implemented a quarterly fee (up to $10 a quarter) to create a ‘green’ fund called the Student Environmental Sustainability Fund (SESF). From there, projects related to creating a more environmentally conscientious BC community can be presented by any students or faculty members.”

Anyone can petition the SESF if they have an idea that will help the college be more environmentally friendly.

“Student engagement has been critical to making Bellecue COllege more sustainable,” said Gruen.

The SESF and other sustainability projects were taken on not because the college was extremely and immediately unsustainable, but simply because the environmental representatives wanted to keep improving. “It’s about what we can do for the college, the community, and the nation as a responsible global citizen,” said Phan.

Sustainability progress is measured based on the project itself; for example, composting was measured by the monthly weight of garbage compared to previous months. Transportation initiatives were measured by the number of cars on campus. “We cound how many students are participating in projects and now many courses the college offers that address sustainability,” said Gruen.

When a project is submitted to the SESF, its proponents have to explain how they plan to measure the progress before the project can be passed.

Currently a project underway by sustainability leaders on campus is a wide energy audit. This audit looks at lighting, water fixtures, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning. So far the audit has revealed ways to save $100,000 per year by retrofitting energy systems.

Another BC sustainability project is coming up called BC Squared, which allows students, faculty and staff to be trained as an environmental expert to conduct an environmental survey across campus. The survey is about reducing the office’s environmental impact. Students who volunteer for BC Squared will receive a $25 gift card to the BC Bookstore. The training is on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 11:30-1:30 p.m., and on Tuesday Nov. 15 at the same time.

More information on BC sustainability is http://depts.bellevuecollege.edu/sustainability/.