Sustainability on Campus
and in Life
A WAY OF LIVING
Sustainability is a way of living that rests on the principle that we can fulfill our human needs without degrading our natural environment.
Sustainability efforts are driven by the belief that human needs can be met, economies can thrive, and our natural environment can flourish.
A variety of opportunities exist for the campus community to participate in and learn from the sustainability program. The following data may be analyzed:
- Overall campus energy usage.
- Reduction in energy usages through energy monitoring.
- Reduction in energy usage through operations of control systems.
- Solid waste generation and reduction.
- Recyclable materials generation and reduction.
- Effectiveness of water conservation measures.
- Effectiveness of water-filling stations on plastic bottle consumption.
Participation and Education Opportunities
Martin Methodist provides a model for Sustainable Development and offers opportunities to demonstrate sustainable living throughout the campus. The following are some initiatives that will be implemented over the coming years to assist the College educate students and the local community on positive efforts for sustainability.
A native garden will be installed on the campus (*location to be determined) to demonstrate hardy native plants that can be used to replace delicate non-native ornamental plants. Typically, native plans are much more drought tolerant and resistant to diseases, reducing the need for chemical sprays, pesticides, and fertilizers that can pollute local water systems. In addition, native plants tend to encourage native pollinators, thus increasing the local biodiversity. Information will be posted throughout the garden offering information concerning its sustainable features.
Students will be given the opportunity to participate in a sustainability contest to help them track their environmental footprint. Much like a fitness tracker, the sustainability app will help students track their water usage, waste generation, and carbon footprint. Students who meet their sustainability goals will be recognized at the College’s Annual Earth Day Festival.
Energy Usage Competitions
Students will have the opportunity to participate in an energy-use competition. Using the school’s monitoring system, the College will notify students, faculty, and staff when their building is trending towards spikes in energy consumption, thus offering participants the chance to take active measures to reduce energy usage (e.g., turning off unneeded appliances or changing heating and cooling settings). Real-time data will be provided allowing the community to enjoy friendly competition while reducing environment impacts.
Earth Day/Week Celebration
Celebration is an important part of the Martin Methodist experience. Whether it’s celebrating the local history and culture, movement towards greater diversity and inclusion, or sustainability efforts, celebrations are actively enjoyed on campus. The College considers Earth Day/Week a time to reflect upon and celebrate our planet; as such, students are provided with an Earth Day concert on the main lawn featuring lively music, educational speakers, and success stories from the campus community.
Creek Clean Up
On November 5, 2020, the MMC community members (faculty, staff, and students) collected 95.6 lbs of trash from the Pleasant Run Creek in under 1.5 hours!
Keep an eye out for future creek cleanups, and join us next week for a recycling challenge!
Campus Sustainability Plan
Energy management is an area where the campus can make a significant positive impact. The College is provided electricity by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) which reported in 2018 that its electricity was produced by the following methods: nuclear 40%, burning coal 26%, burning natural gas 20%, hydroelectric 10%, wind and solar 3%, and Energy Engineering 1 %. TVA is transitioning its sources of electricity away from coal; however, coal continues to be a major source of electricity and pollution. The EPA reports that coal-fired plants are a significant source of mercury and other toxic metals, acid gases, and organic toxins such as dioxins. Actions that the College takes to reduce energy consumption can have a major impact on reducing toxic air emissions from coal-fired power plants.
The College is pursuing a three-pronged approach to conserving energy, including 1) using energy-saving retrofits, 2) monitoring energy consumption, and 3) establishing controls on energy usage.
Currently, energy retrofitting involves the replacement of fluorescent lighting with light-emitting diodes (LED) lights. According to the Department of Energy, widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the US. By 2027, widespread use of LEDs could save about 348 TWh (compared to no LED use) of electricity. This is the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 large electric power plants (1000 megawatts each), and a total savings of more than $30 billion at today’s electricity prices . Thus LED retrofits can have a significant impact on reducing energy cosumption and reducing the toxic chemicals released from buring fossil fuels.
The following table summarizes the areas on campus that have been upgraded with LED lighting:
The College will establish annual priorities for upgrading lighting based on available funding.
Monitoring Energy Consumption
Monitoring energy consumption is an effective tool for sustainability managing the campus. The College has installed electricity meters for most buildings on campus to gather baseline energy consumption data and track on-going usage. These meters allow energy consumption to be tracked and areas for improvement identified The College will use Portfolio Manager, a web-based system developed by EPA, to track energy usage. As reported by the Energy Star organization, the EPA created this online tool to measure and track energy and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.
A building’s overall energy consumption is a function of various factors, including the building’s geographical location, the presence of a tree canopy, building construction, efficiency of the HVAC system, and human activities. Therefore, along with metering buildings, other key factors will be evaluated and monitored to gain an overall understanding of the potential for energy savings in each building. For example, although space heaters are known to consume excessive energy, their use might be justified when operated in buildings with drafty windows and poor insulation unless other measures are taken to prevent excess heat loss.
Energy Control System
The third leg of the energy management plan involves the installation of an HVAC-control system. This control system allows the College to monitor the functioning of the HVAC system in each building, establish set points, and adjust settings (e.g., hours of operations). Because temperature is controlled from a central location, individual building occupants are unable to adjust settings in their buildings, helping the College conserve energy. Maintaining the system with optimal range also prevents significant temperature swings, which lead to condensation and can contribute to mold growth and subsequent indoor air quality problems. Therefore, the control system has a positive impact on both energy conservation and indoor air quality.
According to the EPA, in 2013 Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash and recycled and composted about 87 million tons of this material, equivalent to a 34.4 percent recycling rate. On average, Americans recycled and composted 1.51 pounds of individual waste generation of 4.40 pounds per person per day.
Although much of the waste generated is recyclable, the capacity to manage recyclable materials and the demand for recyclable materials do not meet the supply. Thus, much recyclable material ends up in landfills or polluting the environment. It is generally believed that plastics take 400 years to break down, causing a tremendous strain on the environment.
A huge amount of the world’s plastic waste was sent to China for recycling. NPR reported that some 106 million metric tons-about 45%– of the world’s plastics sent for recycling have been exported to China since reporting to the United Nations Comtrade Database began in 1992. However, China passed a law banning the import of plastics for recycling in 2017, the law, which took effect in 2018, has already begun to strain the worldwide capacity to recycle plastic. In the meantime,p plastics and other recyclable materials continue to be produced and discarded at an alarming rate, creating a potentially serious waste management problem.
Waste reduction is therefore a preferable approach to the world’s waste problem. The College encourages waste reduction in all areas of the campus community, including going paperless wherever possible, encouraging the use of reusable and compostable food service items, and limiting the availability of plastic products whenever possible. In addition, water fountains have been installed that are equipped with water-bottle filling capacity to encourage the use of reusable containers. Water-bottle filling stations have been installed at Colonial Hall, Upperman Hall, Martin Hall, Criswell Hall, CLC, and Science Building.
Martin Methodist encourages the campus community to reduce waste and reuse materials whenever possible and to recycle waste when it is generated. Recycling containers are available throughout campus for the campus community to discard recyclable materials. Recyclable materials are collected and transported to a county-operated collection center. The Biology department records the volume of recyclable materials generated helping to track the school’s progress in effectively collecting recyclable materials.
Ensuring the availability of clean, fresh water both now and in the future is an important consideration. As the World Wildlife Fund reports on their website, “Fresh water is vital to life and yet it is a finite resource. Of all the water on Earth, just 3% is fresh water. Although critical to natural and human communities, fresh water is threatened by a myriad of forces including overdevelopment, polluted runoff, and global warming.”
Water quality can be impacted by industrial and agricultural pollution as well as pollution caused by fertilizers, pesticides, and fuels used in residential and institutional settings, like colleges. Everything that runs into the rivers and streams can eventually be found in drinking water. Many drinking water systems rely heavily on chlorination to treat water for harmful microorganisms, but this process does not remove toxic chemicals from drinking water.
Water should be treated as both a limited resource and a threatened one. The College takes steps to conserve water and to protect the local watershed from contamination. Water conservation measures include maintaining lawns at optimum heights, which reduces the need to waste water in irrigation. Likewise, drought-tolerant plants are used for landscaping reducing the need for irrigation and eliminating wasteful watering practices. A layer of mulch is also applied around trees and beddings to retain moisture at the roots of trees and shrubbery to prevent water loss in the beds on campus.
Careful grounds-management practices also reduce the need for spraying harmful pesticides and fertilizers, which may end up as run-off in nearby rivers and streams. Trees and plants that are hardy and drought-tolerant and lawns that are selected based on the local climate are less strained and require less watering, fertilizer, and pesticide. In addition, the grass clippings left behind from proper mowing of lawns provide an effective fertilizer and eliminate the potential for chemical run-off.
In buildings, plumbing fixtures are replaced with low-flow options to reduce water consumption whenever possible. This includes low-flow showerheads and faucets, as well as waterless urinals and low-flow toilets to conserve water. The housekeeping staff uses microfiber cleaning tools that require less water for cleaning, and the staff is trained in cleaning practices that conserve water.
The ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager also tracks water consumption in each building helping to identify areas where water conservation practices may be employed.
Unless someone like you cares a WHOLE awful lot, NOTHING is going to get better. IT’S NOT.Dr. Seuss