Earth Day: Broncs go green

by Julia Ernst

In a culmination of yearlong efforts to make Rider’s campus a “greener place,” Earth Day 2008, one of numerous events throughout the year that reminded students to “go green,” took place this week.

Many projects and events were started and held throughout the 2007-2008 school year aimed at “greening” the Lawrenceville campus, the most recent of these was the celebration of Earth Day. Students, faculty and staff who came to the BLC patio were given the chance to sign “The Green Pledge,” which signified a commitment to a cleaner environment.

“I pledge to support Rider University’s efforts to become a more sustainable environment,” the statement read.

Also featured at Earth Day was a trade-in, where students who brought disposable plastic bags and water bottles were given new items: organic cloth tote bags and reusable water jugs. T-shirts were given out that said “Broncs Go Green,” surrounded by the rectangle that makes up the recycling arrows symbol.

University President Mordechai Rozanski, Dean of Students Anthony Campbell, professors and students all took part in the Earth Day event. Dr. Laura Hyatt, biology professor and adviser of Sustainable Rider, a student-run club aimed at making campus more environmentally aware, ran the event, along with Diana Kayes, sustainability coordinator.

“Our intent was to make students aware that Rider has made a commitment to make changes consistent with sustainability,” said Hyatt. “We had a great turnout and the ‘trade-up’ factor. We were glad to see so many people sign the green pledge.”

Currently, the biggest “green” project in the works is the construction of the West Village apartments. Construction broke ground last week and will be completed by May 2009.

Rozanski signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment this school year, which is where the construction of the new residence halls stemmed from.

“We pledged to do things with an eye towards sustainability,” explained Campbell last fall when discussion began on the construction of the apartments. “The dorm construction is in keeping with the Climate Pledge.”

According to an article in The Times of Trenton, the construction will utilize horses to clear timber, which will then be used in the actual structures. Mike Reca, assistant vice president of Auxiliary Services, said last semester the environment will always be the first consideration during construction.

“We’re going to preserve as many trees as possible,” Reca said.

Reca added that the new residence halls will meet the requirements for LEED silver certification. LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Development, is a national certification used in designating “green” buildings.

“The designing for LEED silver is one of the strategies in the Presidents’ Climate Commitment,” Reca said.

Hyatt feels that the new construction is a positive step in the direction of sustainability.

“I’m thrilled that Rider has designed and committed to build a LEED-certified building and would like to see more stress on that dimension of its construction,” Hyatt said. “Although it is great that more students will be able to stay on campus, it will have incredibly low energy costs and should have beneficial health effects for residents — daylighting, low VOC [volatile organic compounds] paints and flooring.”

The Westminster campus also took steps over the 2007-2008 school year to make their campus a “greener” place.

“Six bathrooms on campus currently have motion-sensored lights that shut off when not in use, and we have plans of adding at least 11 more around campus,” said Edward Whittle, vice president of the Westminster SGA. “Where possible, we have switched our lights to fluorescent and LED lighting, and we finally have a predominant presence of properly labeled recycling receptacles.”

Numerous other efforts have been made on the Rider campus during the past school year to increase environmental awareness. For the first time this year, Rider took part in RecycleMania, a contest between various college campuses that aims to make students recycle more frequently.

Also for the first time ever, a course in sustainability was offered, taught by Hyatt. There were nine students in the course. They looked at “where the electricity we use goes, where our food goes and where all the paper recycling goes,” Hyatt explained.

Additionally, University documents are now being printed on “green” paper.

“The [printer] paper we chose, Neenah Environment, is made of 100 percent post-consumer waste using green energy and responsible forest planning,” said Cathy Carter-Romero, director of University publications, when the efforts began at the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year. “New official University correspondence is now being printed on the environmentally friendly paper.”

Public Safety also joined the commitment to make Rider a “greener” place. The department added several hybrid cars to its fleet, which reduced fuel consumption and the emission of pollutants.

Sophomore Kristin Vitacco says she can see the difference on campus.

“I feel there are a few noticeable changes,” she said. “I see more of the blue recyclable bins in classrooms and I think the security hybrid cars were a really wise idea. I think the University did a pretty good job in trying to make things more environmentally conscious.”

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