Bravo, Harding University

As the editor of three weekly newspapers, I get dozens of news releases a week. Most of them are via e-mail (thank God), but, even though those don’t waste paper (or kill trees, as I refer to it), sometimes I just hate sorting through the backlog in my inbox. And, to be honest, I delete some of them after a quick skim.

This one was a wonderful exception. Because Harding University is in Searcy and outside our circulation area, I knew we wouldn’t run it in any of my papers, but I asked the university’s PR person for permission to reprint it in full here. She wholeheartedly agreed.

September 18, 2008

Go Green initiative progressing at Harding University

SEARCY, Ark. – Green is the new black and gold for Harding University. On April 22, Earth Day, the University announced an initiative to “Go Green.” Environmental efforts have made such rapid strides that every day is now an earth-friendly day on campus.

To formally oversee these efforts, the University formed an environmental stewardship committee, which is chaired by Dr. Jim Carr, executive vice president of the University. Students, faculty and staff can contact this committee with questions, requests and ideas by e-mailing gogreen@harding.edu.

Carr stated, “I am personally very excited to chair this effort at Harding. We are going to do our best as a committee to mobilize the entire University community to be good stewards of our limited resources and to preserve the terrific environment we have been given on our campus, in Arkansas and in our beautiful country. Our progress in just six months has been nothing short of remarkable. We have already recycled thousands of pounds of paper, aluminum and plastic and have made plans to plant hundreds of new hardwood and pine seedlings in our area.”

According to Greg Tatera, committee member and director of Facility Services, a high level of excitement is also evident among students on campus. He said, “It’s been a long time coming. There’s been a lot of momentum building behind this, and we’ve seen huge strides for the program.”

In an effort to promote conservation, the University cafeteria no longer offers trays. Food Service Director Judy Hart reported that this simple action saves nearly 600 gallons of heated water per meal period, reduces food waste by 20 percent per consumer, and helps prevent cleaning agents from polluting the water supply. The University saves more than $83 per week on water, electricity, sewage and chemicals.

Additional environmentally friendly initiatives abound on campus. Danny DeRamus, director of Physical Resources and environmental stewardship committee member, said that since installation of programmable thermostats, “The price of usage has stayed the same, even with the addition of buildings over the last several years.”

New or recently renovated buildings such as the Ulrey Performing Arts Center and Center for Health Sciences are fitted with thermostats that can only be shifted two or three degrees at a time. This saves energy costs by decreasing the workload for air conditioning and heating units and has also cut down on the number of maintenance calls. Furthermore, the new Center for Health Sciences is the first building on campus to reap energy benefits from a motion detector-based lighting system.

Since its recent inception, the recycling program has expanded from three trial containers to more than 200 bins across campus. Paper recycling is available in nearly every office, and the University will soon collect used ink cartridges and cell phones, old batteries, and discarded CDs and DVDs.

An upsurge in the number of recycled goods picked up from campus illustrates eager participation in the new program. The University has recycled 2,417 bags, or 49,000 pounds, of materials since May 15.

Tatera is encouraged by the success of the recycling program, but he further hopes that this new emphasis on environmental stewardship will reach beyond recycling. He said that students and faculty must learn to rethink usage as well. Perhaps professors can offer more information online instead of copying handouts. Social clubs and campus organizations should ask themselves whether it is necessary to print 200 fliers to spread the word about an event.

Tatera sees environmental stewardship as a mandate. “We have to be good stewards with what the Lord has given us,” he said. “This is what we can do. This is what we have to do.”

-HU-

This kind of stuff makes me want to stand up and cheer!

Go green. Go, Harding!

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