| by Kenneth Chase | No comments

Sustainability and the Department of Residence Life

One of my responsibilities is to be the
champion for sustainability across the department. We’re also doing a whole
bunch of renovations, and so watching the utility bills tells us if our
renovations have been effective. And in fact, they’ve given our buildings whole
new base lines for utilities consumption. So we went from having an annual bill of
somewhere over 10 million dollars, to adding real estate, and now we’re going
to be under 7(million). Utilities are a big part of the rent calculation for students, so
if I’m the most efficient with what we have and the buildings are operating as
efficiently as they can, then that cost can either be at a constant or lower and
then the rent doesn’t need to go up to accommodate the unbridled you know
growth of utilities costs. The water bottle filling stations is what students
kept asking for. So the water bottle filling stations, which, of course keep
plastic out of the landfill, promote drinking water as a healthier choice
than other beverages, and promote hydration so there’s a wellness aspect
to it. And I think save students money. We’ve come a long way. As we’ve moved
forward with sustainability in our department. When I first got here it was
kind of something that was still sprouting. Dr. Binzer at the point that
we started some of our work with the Aggie green fund, wrote a grant to
actually create a student organization called the Eco reps, and since 2010 it’s
morphed and evolved quite substantially since then. Just recently connected with
a group at our most recent AASHE conference that specializes in environmental
mattresses, and so using some of the technology that’s out there that’s a
hundred percent post-consumer recycled material to form mattresses for college
campuses that are varying sizes that can be used across the board and then those
mattresses can be taken back and recycled again. So it’s truly a closed
cycle. Sustainability truly encompasses all aspects of life.
And I know a lot of times we just think of the environmental impact that we have
that’s out there, but it’s also you know the financial impact of the decisions
that you make. Every dollar that you spend as a vote for that company in that
industry. And we try to provide that insight to our students. And then also
the social aspect of sustainability, the ability to take care of yourself, and to
be mindful of your health and wellness, and how do you find and promote
inclusivity and programs and initiatives that are around you. And so I think for
me sustainability because it’s so engrained and what life looks like, it
makes sense for us to bring that knowledge to our residents. Where they’re
living, where they’re learning and connecting with one another, so that they
are more knowledgeable about what their impact is on the world, more on a global
sense but also all the way back down to their residence hall communities here at
Texas A&M as well.

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