ETSU finds going “green” is good

JOHNSON CITY—East Tennessee State University is making important strides in becoming a “green” university through a number of initiatives.  A highly successful event held recently encouraged businesses and homeowners to bring to campus their old electronic devices, such as computers, VCRs, and cell phones, to be collected and removed for safe, reliable, and environmentally friendly recycling.

Twelve trailer trucks were needed to haul away 230,000 pounds of materials over the course of four “eWaste” recycling days in May.  ETSU served as the lead institution for this effort, which ran concurrently at Vanderbilt University and the University of Memphis.  Nearly one million pounds of recycled items were collected across the state.

ETSU students have embraced the green movement and recently voted to approve a Green Fee of $5 per student each semester.  A student committee will oversee allocation of the funds.

A major effort in recycling began in September 2007.  A Recycling Coordinator was hired just the month before to oversee the many new efforts and those begun at various times by different faculty, staff, and student organizations.

With support from across the campus community, ETSU’s programs are paying off in even greater numbers than anticipated.  Since October, over 50 tons of material have been recycled—with a monthly average now reaching 10 tons.  In five years, ETSU projects that it will be recycling 25 percent of all waste materials.

Bins in every building make recycling convenient, as do ETSU’s four recycling centers.  Students in some residence halls have personal recycling bags to make collecting and dropping off items much easier.

Students from kindergarten through seniors at ETSU’s University School are enthusiastically doing their part—including establishing compost bins, planting an organic garden, collecting water for their garden in rain barrels, recycling, and practicing water and energy conservation.

The university requires many vehicles to meet its transportation needs.  Through the use of hybrid and flex fuel vehicles, utility carts, and expanded shuttle bus routes, ETSU has cut back on fuel needs and air pollution.  Another initiative, known as the Yellow Bike Program, involves used bicycles, which are repaired, painted yellow, and parked at the Wayne G. Basler Center for Physical Activity.  Any student, faculty, or staff member may present an identification card at the desk inside the building and then ride one of the bikes for the day, rather than driving an automobile.

For ETSU’s air pollution reduction efforts, the university recently received an Ozzie Award—one of only three presented—from the Ozone Action Partnership, under the auspices of the First Tennessee Development District.  The award, presented at the East Tennessee Environmental Conference, recognizes efforts to prevent the formation of ozone in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

Conservation is vital to any green program, and ETSU is invested in an Energy Performance Contract, with $10 million in expenses expected to realize future savings.  Upgrades are in progress on the university’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical, and water systems.

Future plans for a “greener” ETSU continue to evolve.  Educating the campus community, more yellow bicycles and bike trails, outside recycling containers—even composting in the dining areas—are under discussion to make ETSU the best possible steward of East Tennessee’s natural resources.

For further information, contact Kathleen Moore at (423) 439-7766 or via