By Leah Graham
Brian McCoy wants to do his part for the environment -- one light bulb at a time.
With support from the Office of Sustainability, McCoy had the bright idea to switch out all of the incandescent light bulbs in the College of Education -- where he works in the Literacy Center -- for compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
"I know how much energy the university uses as an entity," McCoy says. "I am conscious about the use of energy and know that one small step can have an impact."
Indeed, while the Presidents Climate Commitment and Ohio House Bill 251 address sustainability issues on a large scale, the value of everyone doing what they can to reduce their ecological footprint cannot be underestimated, said Sonia Marcus, who leads the university's Office of Sustainability.
"The fact that Ohio University as an institution has signed on to becoming climate neutral has implications for everyone on this campus," Marcus said. "Sure, we are going to need to implement far-reaching infrastructural initiatives in order to reduce the greenhouse gas output of our campus. But that does not mean that each and every member of our campus community will not need to get involved with the effort to make Ohio University a greener place to live, work and play."
For instance, McCoy's mission in the College of Education will help Ohio University reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save more than $1,500 in electricity costs ($30 per bulb) over the next 10 years. That's because CFLs use just one quarter of the energy of incandescent bulbs, and they last up to 10 times longer.
As of June 2008, 1,055 incandescent light bulbs had been replaced with CFLs across the Athens campus. The savings in a decade: $31,650.
In fact, Ohio University administrators and staff in offices across campus are helping to minimize consumption of natural resources, promote conservation and move toward a sustainable future.
When the new printing quota system at Alden Library was being revamped this year, staff saw an opportunity to meet the needs of clients, save trees and water, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"There has been a lot of interest from students for a long time to offer double-sided printing either, one, to save money or, two, to save paper," said Wanda Weinberg, head of reference and instruction. Under the new system, patrons who choose to print on both sides of the page, or "duplex," pay 5 cents per page while whose who print on just one side pay 6 cents per page.
If you're wondering when the other labs on campus will begin offering this option, much will depend on patrons' use of duplex printing at the library this fall. "Students will be the biggest pushers in switching to duplex printing in other labs on campus," said David Dudding, director of library IT.
Meanwhile, Facilities Management is exploring options for going greener in the purchase of office supplies. The department has switched to using 100 percent recycled content paper as a first step toward conserving natural resources and closing the loop on recycled materials.
According to the Responsible Purchasing Network, that move can reduce energy use by 44 percent, greenhouse gas emissions by 37 percent and both solid waste emissions and water use by 50 percent -- not to mention save trees.
There's a lot of potential in this arena. In 2007, Ohio University spent $239,295 on office paper from its primary supplier, Office Max, according to sales rep Jana Kent. Of that, $480 went for 100 percent recycled content paper.
While the eco-friendly paper costs $1 more per ream, that isn't enough to turn off Facilities Management Administrative Assistant Meghan Anderson. "Although there is a price difference, it is not substantial enough to outweigh the payoff for the environment." In fact, Facilities Management has committed to switching over to 100 percent recycled content paper in all of its printers.
Here are some examples of eco-friendly moves by other university offices:
- In Cutler Hall, 152 standard 25-watt candelabra bulbs were switched out with 4-watt CFLs. The investment will pay for itself in about two years, while the bulbs can be expected to last another five.
- Several computer labs switch off equipment at night.
- The provost's office has begun using biodegradable plates and silverware.
- Gary Ginther in Alden Library uses the unneeded dust jackets of new books to create envelopes and file folders that are popular with students and staff alike, reducing the need for other paper products.
- The Voinovich School has been monitoring its energy use and is implementing a plan to encourage staff members to conserve.
If these stories have inspired you to investigate opportunities for greening your office, Brian McCoy would be pleased. He has issued a personal challenge to campus departments to exchange incandescents for CFLs as a first step.
For more information, free CFLs and tips on how to green your office or department, visit www.ohio.edu/sustainability or contact Marcus at email@example.com. (Do you or your co-workers have a story to share? She'd love to hear it.)
To speak with a media representative about this story, contact Sonia Marcus at 740-593-0026 or firstname.lastname@example.org.