It's Not Easy Being Green

Framingham State University is making strides to reduce its carbon footprint. Yesterday morning, the University held a "green tour" to highlight its environmentally-friendly efforts.

From the food served in the McCarthy Center, to the utensils used, to the containers students use to transport food back to their dorms,  is becoming greenier, more energy-efficient and reducing organic and inorganic waste.

Throughout campus, the University has undertaken a number of initiatives and  programs to reduce its carbon footprint. Yesterday morning, the University held a "green tour" to highlight what it has accomplished and talk about what  still needs to be done.

The University's green movement began eight or nine years ago when an environmental law class of professor Carl Hakansson questioned the university's recycling efforts. Three years ago, the efforts were hasten as Gov. Deval Patrick signed Executive Order 484, which required state schools to reduce its carbon footprint.

Projects, large and small, are having an impact on campus.

Maureen Bagge Fowler, the University's environmental health and safety coordinator of facilities and capital planning,  identified a small dumpster, with the word recycle on it.

Art students, using psychedelic colors, painted the dumpster last year, she said. 

Although it has a small footprint on campus, it acts like a billboard calling attention to the University's recycling program.

The University recycles paper, plastic and cans. It also runs special programs to recycle electronics, toner cartridges and even mattresses, she said.

From the dumpster site the tour moved to the construction of a new dorm on State Street.

Kyle Larabee of Pfeufer Richardson Architects said "every drop of rain that falls on this site (including yesterday's) is harvested for irrigation."

The new residence hall will have "dual-flush toilets and super-efficient shower heads that will allow it to use 46% less water" than other halls. And when completed, the hall will be "26% more energy efficient," he said.

Most of campus likely has noticed the "green changes" at the McCarthy Center. Ralph Eddy, director of dining services for Sodexo, said the menu promotes choices with reduced sugar, salt and far.

Sodexo purchases local, sustainable products, buying apples from New York and potatoes from Maine, currently, he added. It also supports and uses sustainable seafood.

Sodexo is committed to a reduction in organic and inorganic waste, he said Eddy. "All of the food waste is now composted," he added. The dining service will begin growing its own herbs.

A couple of years ago, the Center went trayless, saving the university 30,000 gallons of water. And now, all of the dinnerware, cups, utensils are made from recyclable materials,.

Up on the roof of the McCarthy Center, Assistant Director of Facilities Bob Tatro showed off the newly-installed solar panels.

Even on a rainy day like yesterday, once operable, the panels will produce power, Tatro said. On a good sunny day, the panels could generate 300-400 volts.

The solar project cost $487,000, of which state and federal grants paid about 75%. Once a final inspection is completed, the panels could save the University about $15,000 annually in energy costs.

The final stop on yesterday's "green tour" was the university's 50-year old power plant. The plan is to convert the plant from oil to natural gas, Tatro said. The three boilers burn a half million gallons of  number 6 oil per year, he added.

The environmentally-friendly improvements made by the University are effective. Compared to other universities of similar size Framingham State University is using "quite a bit lower energy use than our peers," concluded Tatro.



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