Sustainability Office works to make campus greener

Miranda Cooley, property specialist 3, supervises receiving of surplus.

Brock Hulse, News Contributor

New projects implemented to maintain, expand sustainability.

While students may be aware of sustainability projects put on by the Student Sustainability Initiative, many offices around the university work to reduce waste and make the campus greener.

One of the ways in which Oregon State University is working to reduce waste and increase sustainability is the Materials Management Department. This department pairs the Campus Recycling and Surplus Property offices into one unit, Andrea Norris, the marketing and development coordinator of Materials Management at OSU, said.

“We’ve always had this problem with realizing that recycling is being generated in classrooms, but we can’t interrupt classes,” Norris said. “We took this model where you remove any type of trash receptacle from inside of the classroom and then you place multi bin units in the hallways adjacent to those”.

This program, known as All in the Hall, provides all building users with an accessible way to recycle or landfill materials upon leaving a classroom, Norris said.

“We looked at what percent of the trash in that building was recyclable content,” Norris said. “Once something is in a trash bin on campus, nobody’s touching that again, once it’s in the bin it’s going in the landfill.”

Prior to the program, 32 to 59 percent of material in trash bins was recyclable Norris said. After implementing the new program, the amount of recyclable materials in trash bins decreased by 0.8 to 2 percent.

Norris added that the partnership between the Recycling and Surplus departments is unique to OSU.

“The scale of the program, and the fact that we keep all property internal and resell it ourselves, as well as have a storefront, are things that are not commonplace at universities,” Norris said.

The storefront, which is called OSUsed, is not the only way in which unneeded OSU property is sold, Norris said.

“It is required that all university property must come through surplus property. That includes all of our satellite campuses, experiment stations, extension offices in every county in the state,” Norris said. “It can be down to a box of pencils or it could be up to vehicles that the university owns, it could be livestock, we’ve sold ships from Hatfield.”

Recycling and Surplus also sells surplus for other public agencies, surplusing for up to 40 state and local agencies, Norris said.

“That could be things like school districts, police departments, that send their goods to us to be resold. We sell it and then return a portion of the sale back to them,” Norris said. “A lot of the stuff we surplus for other agencies would include things like vehicles, police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, etc.”

OSU is working to increase sustainability efforts through other projects, Brandon Trelstad, a sustainability officer within the office, said.

“We’re doing a series of projects called retro-commissioning projects, which are energy efficiency tune-ups for buildings. When you have a building built in the past 20 to 30 years which has a computerized heating and cooling system, after 10 or even less years they get out of whack,” Trelstad said. “If sensors are out of calibration or dust builds up in the system somewhere it can throw off sensors, simultaneous heating and cooling can happen, which is something we obviously want to avoid”.

Currently three retro-commissioning projects are happening in Kelley Engineering Center, Linus Pauling Science Center and Nash Hall, Trelstad said. An energy dashboard is used to analyze the energy usage data for different buildings around campus.

“What we’re using right now is nice, but it is pretty expensive for what we’re getting and it doesn’t do everything we want it to do,” Trelstad said.

Trelstad said when a building is going to be renovated, the Sustainability Office is asked to gather all of the utility data for the building.

“The hardware we have in our buildings, where we have modern metering, means that we have hardware that will take a lot of measurements, but we don’t have a software platform that will capture it,” Trelstad said.

The ability to capture and compare the data will help lead to even more energy saving around campus, Trelstad said.

“I want to compare a building to another building, compare them for a custom date range. I can’t do that with this system,” Trelstad said. “That’s the kind of thing we want to do. We want to be able to have competitions across different buildings, across say, a month, to see who can reduce their electricity use the most.”

According to Keava Campbell, a student utility data analyst in the Sustainability Office, while the meter data is not currently able to be compared from building to building in a useable way, it is currently one of the many factors being used in the carbon calculator created by the Sustainability Office.

“We look at our energy consumption, waste and water,” Campbell said. “The carbon calculator uses energy, waste, and water consumption data to make a baseline for each of those categories based on the fact that you are a student or staff using the facilities here.”

Campbell said the Sustainability Office is also implementing the green office certification project.

“It is kinda similar in ways to the carbon calculator, it doesn’t give you an actual numeric value of say, how many kilograms of CO2 you’re emitting,” Campbell said. “It asks you, ‘In your office, do you use LED lights, do you have your computers set to go to sleep,’ those sorts of questions looking at office culture and office programing to encourage more sustainable practices.”

The beginning stages are also underway for adapting the green office certification to work with Fraternity and Sorority Life of communal housing, Campbell said.

These various projects being implemented by organizations throughout OSU are meant to better the overall sustainability on campus, Trelstad said.

“We think we can save money, get a better product and provide a learning experience for students,” Trelstad said. “That’s the trifecta. We try and spend quite a bit of time doing that.”

Was this article helpful?