Living in a Natural World
Inspired by Student Senate's Go Green: Marching Towards Environmental Awareness campaign in 2007, the faculty instituted the civic engagement theme Environmental Stewardship: Living in a Natural World to shape academic and student life programming throughout the 2007-08 academic year. While environmental stewardship efforts on campus began well before this campaign, the Go Green initiative is an intentional collaboration between Student Senate and the Buildings & Grounds department. B&G provides the tools and resources and the students organized and implemented the recycling effort.
Going green is more than recycling plastic and aluminum but is a collective responsibility. The simple things we do can make a big difference, such as turning off the lights when not in use. The campus also participated in a student-driven initiative to lower the set temperature by two degrees during the month of February 2008 in all residence halls.
In March 2009, Buildings & Grounds staff has installed four new Sylvania LED Post Top Retrofit Lamps on campus. These four lamps are located on the north and south side (first two lights on each side) of the entrance to our campus at the intersection of Lawn and University Drive. This is our first installation of LED lighting fixture on campus and part of our on going effort to gradually convert our campus lighting to a more environmentally responsible solution which offers substantial energy savings and dramatic improvements in light quality.
At the time, campus currently has 269 post top lighting fixtures using conventional bulbs. It costs about an average of about 12 cents a day (10hr. average) to operate each conventional light. It costs about 3 cents a day for each LED light. If all 269 lights were the LED lights, we would save about $24 per day or almost $9,000 per year. However there is a down side to the LED lights as they are relatively expensive and require more precise current and heat management than traditional light sources. These four new lights are being installed primarily as an experiment to evaluate maintenance costs for the LED lights for future planning.
Bluffton has long been committed to sustainability practices. Mustaq Ahmed, Bluffton's director of buildings and grounds, has been working to refine these practices and researching new ways for Bluffton to become even more environmentally efficient. " It is our perspective that energy costs are destined to go up well beyond the spiraling cost at the gas pump," said Ahmed. "Today 80 percent of our power plants are dependent on fossil fuels. Our best option for the environment and the pocket book is to use fewer kilowatts. We believe that the greenest electron is the one not generated."
Bluffton is the only university in northwest Ohio to use a thermal ice storage system for air management in residence halls and main campus buildings. Running water through the storage system at night allows the ventilation and air conditioning system to make ice during off-peak hours, meaning less energy is used.
- Nearly 95 percent of Bluffton's campus is equipped with compact florescent lighting
- Used vegetable oil and 1,600 pounds cardboard from Marbeck Center operations is recycled each month. The used vegetable oil is used for cattle feed and biodiesel.
- Used motor oil is recycled and biodiesel is used in buildings and grounds operations
- Instead of nitrogen, groundskeepers use magnesium and other more natural methods to keep athletics fields green and healthy
- A recycling task force was commissioned by President James M. Harder in the fall of 2007
- Campus-wide recycling of aluminum cans and plastic bottles was instituted in winter 2008
- More than 30 cubic yards of plastic and aluminum by volume had been recycled by May 2008
- A pulse metering system is being installed in Marbeck Center, the building which consumes most energy on campus, to monitor power use. The pulse meter will reduce power use during peak demand periods.