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AU puts ‘green’ effort into every corner of campus
7/28/11

Alfred University Dining Services Director John Dietrich remembers seeing an Alfred University student carrying a meatball sub-filled tray to the dining hall conveyer belt leading to the garbage.

"That was a real eye-opener," says Dietrich.

After seeing the concept in a trade magazine, Dietrich presented trayless dining to the dining committee. Dining Services compared a day’s wasted food and beverage with and without trays.

"We saw how much less food was being wasted," says Dietrich.

Dining Services went trayless fulltime beginning in 2008, saving 15,000 pounds of food per semester with trayless dining, about the size of an adult male elephant.

Dietrich says the trayless dining initiative received positive feedback and national recognition.

"I’ve been told we are ahead of the campus as a whole," says Dietrich. "People are surprised that we do it and that we are saving so much."

Dietrich serves on Alfred University’s Council on Green Efforts, a committee consisting of representatives of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Art and Design, Inamori School of Engineering, Student Affairs, Physical Plant, libraries, and students. President Charles Edmondson created the council to advise him in following the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment he signed in 2009. The council serves as the leader of campus environmental efforts.

Kevin Dodge, motor pool technician, says the council sets an example for students about the need to recycle.

"It’s something that you’ve got to look at all the time," says Dodge. "If you’re not looking at it all the time, you’re probably getting behind."

Dodge says the council educates the campus in green behavior.

"It takes time for people to change," says Dodge. "The committee is definitely trying to help with that. It makes a great impression if we’re working at trying to be better at those things."

AU alumna Kacie Dean ‘11 served as council co-chair last academic year with Michele Hluchy, professor and chair of the Environmental Studies and Geology Department, and worked to bring attention to campus green efforts.

"Simply putting up posters or sitting at a table and talking to students about what they can do and what the school is doing is always important," says Dean. "More times than I can count, I had students asking about how to recycle at Alfred."

Kathy Woughter, Student Affairs vice president, says AU students have strong recycling and sustainability enthusiasm.

"They come here with good habits that they’ve learned from home," says Woughter. "If they haven’t learned about it at home, they tend to hear about it a lot at school."

"I find that the young people that I work with are all looking for the recycling container," says Nancy Kohler, Equestrian Center director.

Kohler says the center reduced hay deliveries by buying larger loads, installed a bulk feed tank to save transportation cost and fuel, and installed covers and locks on thermostats, maintaining stabling areas and the indoor arena temperatures at 42 degrees.

Dodge says the heating plant now uses LED lighting, stand-alone electric meter comparisons, and solar paneling. He says the motor pool purchased three hybrid vehicles, which get 50 miles per gallon, and the custodial staff uses green and water-based chemicals.

Dodge says the council carefully considers approaching initiatives.

"We have to weigh out what’s worth doing, what’s not worth doing," says Dodge.

Kohler says the council members work well together.

"I think it’s a good mix of people on the committee," says Kohler. "There’s definitely an interest in trying to make all that happen."

Hluchy agrees.

"A lot of times we are talking about changing behaviors and so having everybody buy into the process is really important," says Hluchy. "You can’t do anything without everybody’s cooperation and interest."

Dean praises the council’s members and is optimistic about its work in the future.

"They are experts in their field and jobs and were willing to come together to tackle something new and try to write a plan and move it forward," says Dean. "In the next year, I believe the process and prominence of the council will increase and show greater efficiency, without losing its ability to make sure we take the time to bring sustainability on campus in a successful way."

"It’s really a matter of bringing together and coordinating the people who are in a position to do something," says Woughter.

Hluchy says interest in recycling and the council could be higher.

"There are probably some people who don’t know about the recycling program on campus," says Hluchy. "Increasing the awareness might be one of the highest priorities."

Woughter says Alfred University needs to make recycling easier in the future through zero sort recycling, a system which collects recyclables together without an individual needing to separate them. She says she would also like to see the university set up recycling bins in office buildings, academic buildings, classrooms and athletics facilities, and reformed travel policies.

"I think we are in a good position," says Woughter. "We have a lot of student, faculty, and staff interest. We’re very close to making some big impacts here."

The sky’s the limit," says Dodge.