Want to learn how to make your campus building a little bit more environmentally conscientious? There are a few simple things that you can do. Here are some of our suggestions, based on a pilot study of Hearst Memorial Mining Building. Feel free to look through, incorporate ideas or your own, and send us feedback and suggestions.
1. Conduct a waste audit.
2. Set up a dish station.
3. Create a recycling web page.
4. Implement bottle and can recycling.
5. Set up a recycling station.
6. Obtain and set-up paper re-use bins.
7. Coordinate with purchasing groups to obtain eco-friendly products.
8. Conduct an energy audit.
9. Host a greening luncheon.
(1) Conduct a Waste Audit.
If you are interested in making your building more environmentally conscientious, reducing the waste stream is a good way to begin. But before you can do that, it would be useful to know exactly what constitutes your waste stream. Do you have a lot of laboratory waste? paper towels? other paper products? or is it mainly food packaging? Knowing what makes up your waste stream is am important part of figuring out how to reduce that waste stream. So how does one go about coordinating a waste audit?
To get started, contact Campus Refuse and Recycling Services. You'll need to coordinate with them to make sure that the trash is not collected per standard procedure, but stored away somewhere that it will not be tampered with or otherwise contaminated. Also, if the waste is going to be stored outside, make sure to plan for a day where rain is not expected - rain will both skew the results of the audit and make it messier for you to work. Since it will take some time for Campus Refuse and Recycling to coordinate your waste audit, you should contact them roughly three weeks before you plan on conducting the waste audit. They can also provide for you gloves and/or masks upon request for sorting, a scale for weighing, as well as trash bins in which to sort the trash. You will, of course, need to coordinate picking up the bins and any other equipment that you need.
When we did our trash audit, we sorted the trash into 15 different categories: (1) plastics #1 and #2, (2) plastics #3 - #7, (3) other plastics (plastic bags, etc.), (4) glass, (5) aluminum, (5) other metal, (6) newspapers, (7) corrugated cardboard, (8) paper towels, (9) white paper, (10) mixed paper, (11) compostable food, (12) non-compostable food, (13) liquid, (14) styrofoan, (15) other. Additionally, we did a separate sort to determine the total of food packaging waste and we did a separate sort of the contents of the recycle bin.
When you do your waste sort, be aware that no matter how many categories you have, you will find items that do not clearly fit into any one category. Overall, it's probably most important to be consistent with how things are sorted, and remember what went where for future reference.
Once you've completed your waste audit, this should hopefully give you some target areas to improve upon. In our waste audit, for example, we found that food packaging waste constituted nearly 25% of the total waste by weight. We also found that most (80%) of the white paper that was disposed of in the recycle had a reusable backside (One Side Clean paper), and could have been reused. Therefore, we decided to target these areas for improvement.
See the results of the Hearst Mining Building Waste Audit.
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(2) Set Up a Dish Station.
One big source of waste is likely packaging from food: paper plates and plastic utensils, paper coffee cups, paper napkins, etc. This can arise from take-out lunches, quick runs to the coffee shop, etc. One way to reduce this source of waste is to make available an alternative option for your building inhabitants. Give everyone a place to store their mugs so that they can use these instead of getting a new paper cup each time they want coffee. Find a place to store dishes and silverware to encourage people to bring their own lunches from home.
Setting up a dish station in the building can help to encourage these habits. This is a place where cups, plates, utensils are stocked and stored for everyone to use. If your building had an accessible area with a sink (most department offices will have this, and some buildings even have their own kitchen), this is an ideal place to set up the dish station.
You can solicit donations of equipment from building occupants - most people have old plates, silverware, etc. that they are looking for an excuse to get rid of. Now you can offer them a way to get rid of it without throwing it away!
Additionally, it's good to stock the dish station with dish-washing soap, sponges, and towels for drying. A drying rack might be a good idea. The easier you make it to keep the area clean, the cleaner it will remain. Remember to purchase environmentally friendly soaps and products.
Finally, the job of keeping the dish station clean should belong to everyone. We set up a rotating cleaning schedule so that each month a different research group would be responsible for keeping the dish station clean.
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(3) Create a Recycling Web Page.
Does everyone in your building know where to properly dispose of all their waste? Is everyone aware of what recycling options are available? Most likely not. And while all the information that you need might be accessible somewhere, chances are that most people will not spend the time to find out. That's why it can be very helpful to create an integrated waste management web site that is specific to your building. Consolidating all the information to one simple location will facilitate proper disposal of waste and proper recycling habits.
By creating a waste management website for your building, you can make all the relevant information available to everyone from once source. You can see our example at http://www.mse.berkeley.edu/hearstwaste.html. On this page you can find site-specific instructions for how to deal with food related waste, paper product waste, plastics, metals, glass, office equipment, and laboratory waste.
Make sure that your website is accessible to everyone in the building, for instance, you can link it to your department website.
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(4) Implement Bottle and Can Recycling.
Bottle and can recycling is available for campus buildings by request through campus recycling and refuse services. In fact, in most buildings the East Bay Conservation Corps (EBCC) maintains beverage container collection containers (33-45 gallon brute barrels); if your building does not have one, you can request one through CRRS.
There are a few stipulations however: (1) CRRS requires to have a contact person and telephone number for each bin placed. This person is responsible for contacting CRRS whenever pickup is necessary. (2) Your building must generate at least 45 gallons per month of beverage containers. (3) The bins will only be placed in locations that can be accessed without keys during normal business hours. (4) There must be permanent signage explaining what can and cannot be recycled.
If you feel that these requirements can be satisfied, then this will likely be a good option for you. However, don't give up on bottle and can recycling if not. Say, for instance, you feel that your building would not generate the necessary 45 gallons per month, but you'd still like to see that what you do generate does get recycled. An effective option is to set up an internal bottle and can recycling program. Find an appropriate receptable, and locate it somewhere that is accessible but does not block doorways or hallways (you will need to check with your building coordinator for an approriate location). Then, building members can take turns returning the bottles and cans to a redemption center so that you can not only recycle your bottles and cans, but you can collect the deposit for them at the same time. This money can be well spent -- you can save it for a departmental social fund, or better yet you can save it to donate to a charity. Saving this money is a good way to encourage people to get involved in the internal recycling program!
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(5) Set up a Recycling Station.
One way to encourage people to recycle is to make recycling as easy as possible. One way to do this is to consolidate all recycling facilities into a single location within your building. For instance, you can put together a recycling station where it is possible to recycle many basic items: bottles and cans, batteries, styrofoam packaging peanuts, etc. This way, everyone knows where to go when they need to dispose of goods that can be recycled.
It will be important for your recycling station to be located somewhere that can be easily accessed, but is sufficiently removed from view (since many building coordinators do not appreciate the introduction of clutter) and does not block any hallways. Also, ideally, the responsibility for actually recycling the materials (i.e. taking the box of batteries to the appropriate facilty) should be evenly distributed by the various groups that use the recycling station.
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(6) Obtain and set-up Paper Re-Use Bins.
Your waste audit will likely indicate that much of the paper being recycled (or thrown away) probably has a clean back side, and thus qualifies as "One Side Clean" (OSC) paper. A good way to encourage the use of this paper as scrap paper is to use the Students for a Greener Berkeley "Paper Re-Use Bins". These bins, when distributed throughout your building, can help to encourage the use of OSC paper. For more information and to obtain OSC bins, see our OSC web page.
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(7) Coordinate with Purchasing Groups to Obtain Eco-Friendly Products.
Most probably, most of the paper that is used in your building does not contain a significant portion of recycled materials. One big way to make a difference is to see that recycled content office paper is purchased and used as often as possible. Purchasing recycled content paper is an important way to slow deforestation and send a clear signal to paper manufacturers that consumers are interested in preserving natural forests.
It's very likely that in your building, most office paper is purchased independently by the various groups who use it. That is, there is no centralized purchasing office - not for the university, and not even necessarily for your department. That means that you may need to approach the different purchasing groups independently. Consider starting with the biggest purchasers first - for instance, department main offices, libraries, etc. You'll need to determine who is in charge of purchasing, and set up a meeting with them to discuss the possibility of purchasing recycled content paper.
In our attempts to promote the purchasing of recycled content paper, we found that recycled content paper has something of a bad rap amongst many purchasing departments. For instance, it is a common belief that recycled content paper is not as bright or that it causes printers and copiers to jam more frequently. Most of these ideas are left-over from the earliest days of recycled content paper, when this may in fact have been this case. However, today there are many studies that show that recycled content paper is no different from it's virgin paper counterpart. Students for a Greener Berkeley has put together a recycled content paper fact sheet which can be found at www......... You may find it useful when talking with purchasing departments.
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(8) Conduct an Energy and Water Audit.
How efficiently is energy being used in your building? It's highly probable that there is room for improvement. Are the lights always left on in unoccupied rooms? Is there excessive heating or air conditioning? Nowadays even the automatic flush toilets might be using water unnecessarily, if the sensors are calibrated improperly and flushing occurs excessively.
An energy audit can help to identify potential energy saving measures. Additionally, it can be helpful even to call attention to these matters by publishing the results in an accessible manner for all building occupants. How much of the electricity bill, for instance, might be reduced if the lights in the bathrooms were turned off when not in use? This information alone might encourage more conscientious use of energy.
An energy audit involves seeing how efficiently the building consumes resources. Equally importantly, it serves as a means to identify potential resource conserving measures. Some ideas include lighting and occupany sensors, computer monitor replacement and shut down, and larger scale infrastructural changes to improve the efficiency of, say, the HVAC system.
Lighting and Occupany Sensors: These can be borrowed from the Pacific Energy Center's Tool Lending Library and mounted in offices, classrooms, laboraties, bathrooms (especially!) etc. to log data as to how often lights are left on unnecessarily.
At present, we are still working on our energy audit of the Hearst Memorial Mining Building. Keep checking back for more detailed and updated information. We are hoping to publish our results sometime in Fall 2006.
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(9) Host a Greening Luncheon.
Ultimately, the success of your "greening" will depend on how many people get interested in and excited about the changes that you are implementing. Providing information and getting the word out about all these changes that you are implementing is very important. One way to do this is to host a "Greening Luncheon" or a "Greening Coffee Break" for your building -- a quick opportunity for all building members to get together to learn about the changes that you are working towards and how they can get involved. It's important to present your goals, but it's equally important to hear other suggestions as well -- a short discussion session may be well-received. And, providing some food and beverage (and reminding people to bring their own reusable cups/plates!) is a good way to lure in a larger crowd.
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