The University of West Georgia has an active and successful recycle program. The large bottle shaped dispensaries around campus are for recycled plastic bottles and cans. The blue bins in offices are for white paper. In 2014 Housing launched serious recycle efforts in the residence halls, with recycle bins on every floor. Waste diversion due to these efforts has reached 11%, which is a big improvement over the past, although we aim for continued improvements.
UWG designs all new buildings and major renovations in accordance with the State of Georgia's "Georgia Peach Green Building Standards". The Georgia Peach Green Building Rating System is a 4-tiered system followed in accordance with the Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Construction Act of 2008 (O.C.G.A. §50-8-18) for state-owned buildings in Georgia. UWG is currently updating their building standards to require a minimum of 2-Peaches to be pursued on all new construction. The long term aim of the Center is to make all future buildings LEED certified.
The University follows a comprehensive sustainable landscape management plan which includes responsible oversight in the areas of yard debris management, turf management, plant usage and maintenance, water conservation, and integrated pest management. UWG is also a proud member of Tree Campus USA. As part of this membership, UWG maintains a Tree Policy that states there is to be no net loss in tree canopy. This means that for every 1" of tree caliber lost, 1" of tree caliber shall be planted back to replace the loss. Facilities and Grounds is also a big support in the maintenance of the community garden on campus and has offered its support in establishing more food producing gardens if there is a demand.
Auxiliary Services is currently working on finding more exact data on how much of the food offered in its cafeterias is “local” and thus less carbon intensive. The aim in the future is to increase local and organic foods. Currently, dining facilities offer a number of vegetarian options and some vegan options. The coffee offered at UWG cafeterias is “Ecogrounds”, which means it is Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade certified. A longer term effort will be to compost much of the vegetable kitchen waste and supply a small amount of food to the cafeterias from UWG’s community garden.
About 41% of all cleaning and janitorial products purchased at UWG are Green Seal and/or UL Environment (EcoLogo) certified products. Custodial Services has also invested in a new machine (OS3) which generates cleaning solutions on-site by using pool salt, water, and electricity, generating a multipurpose disinfectant solution. Such a machine is also used in food services. Currently effectiveness is being assessed, but if fully adopted the OS3 would eliminate several of the products that are currently purchased prepackaged, thus reducing waste and saving energy.
On campus the University is using an all-electric Leaf vehicle to gauge the possibility of further investments in electric fleet vehicles. UWG is also currently installing a Level 2 Charge Point station on campus in the TLC/Pafford lot. This station will have the ability to charge two electric cars at once.
UWG is a commuter school, with about 72% of students and all faculty/staff commuting from off-campus. Based on a recent survey it is estimated that about 78% of commuter students and 91% of faculty and staff drive alone to campus. This is a significant greenhouse gas contribution. To cut down on commuting, UWG offers flex time options that allow some employees to work a (4) ten hour a day work week or similar variations to the standard five day work week
USG’s flex time policy can be found here: http://www.usg.edu/hr/manual/teleworking_flextime_policy
It is estimated that 7% of students take the University Bus to campus, and once on campus the University offers shuttle busses to cut down on vehicular traffic on and around campus.
It is also estimated that only 4% of students and 2% of faculty/staff ride their bikes to campus. Currently commuter bicyclists have access to Campus Center amenities that allow students, staff and faculty to shower, store personal items, and safely store bicycles. However, the greater aim is to increase bicycle traffic to campus by making the campus and its environment more bicycle friendly. The University of West Georgia is currently working with the local municipality to finalize a bicycle project to connect our campus to the Carrollton “downtown” in a planned manner. An effort will also be made to make the campus more accessible to bikes with the ultimate plan being the implementation of a long term bike rental program on campus, as well as participation in a city wide bike share program.
Lastly, it is estimated that 7% of students and 5% of faculty/staff carpool, even though there is no official policy in place that rewards carpooling. The Center for Sustainability is working on possible options to reward and encourage carpooling in the future. If you have any ideas, let us know.
Currently UWG does not have a purchasing policy in place for electronics, but efforts are being made to look into establishing such a policy with the aim of increasing the percentage of green electronics that are purchased, for instance through the use of EPEAT registered electronics. There is also currently no policy to mandate the use of partially recycled paper. Currently, less than 7% of warehouse distributed paper has recycled content. The Center for Sustainability at UWG hopes to facilitate a move to more sustainable purchasing policies in these areas.
Due to various water conservation efforts and water efficiency in new constructions on campus, water usage has gone significantly down in the past two years. Also, Facilities and Grounds uses well water for most of their irrigation. Additionally, two rain gardens have been created to absorb water runoff to ensure it returns to the soil rather than running off into the city’s drainage system.
The main impetus for sustainability at UWG comes from the University’s Strategic Plan. In addition to the guidance offered in the Strategic Plan, the Academic Master Plan and Facilities’ Master Plan will be important documents guiding decision making in the future. The newest iterations of these plans are not yet complete. The Center for Sustainability looks forward to having a focus on sustainability reflected in these plans as well. When these and any other relevant planning documents are completed they will be made available on the Center’s webpage.
From UWG’s Strategic Plan:
Strategic Imperative Four: Operational Success—Effectiveness and Sustainability
“Guided by its shared values and inspired by its vision, the University of West Georgia will actively fulfill its mission in a manner that is sustainable in terms of social, financial, and environmental challenges, risks, and opportunities. This approach is consistent with the conventional meaning of sustainable cosm practice, and takes on additional meaning when applied to the values, vision, and mission of UWG . . .
As UWG grows, we will be committed to providing a sustainable campus that is learner-centered, attractive, functional, and safe and that addresses the educational, technological, instructional, research, cultural, social, environmental, housing, recreational, and co-curricular needs that support the academic mission, community activity, and student success . . .
Goal B: Create a built environment that is sustainable and relevant to the educational and personal needs of students; the aspirations of faculty and staff; and the economic, social, and cultural needs of the community
Objective 1: On an ongoing scheduled basis, assess the condition and suitability of campus facilities, technology, space utilization, and campus infrastructure, making sustainability a priority in all new construction, technology investments, and building modification projects; and
Objective 2: Develop and implement a measured program aimed at achieving and communicating the University’s commitment to lead in the field of environmental and social sustainability.”