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Lifestyle changes for a green campus

Global Scorning

Michelle Udem

Issue date: 9/25/09 Section: Opinion
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Constructing more efficient buildings is a start, but some schools are going further.
Constructing more efficient buildings is a start, but some schools are going further.
[Click to enlarge]
Media Credit: Olivier Meunier
[Click to enlarge]
By observing the variety of paper and plastics in campus trash cans, the bright fluorescent lights flickering in empty dorm room windows, and the amount of food left on dining hall plates, it appears that voluntary reduction of one's own adverse environmental impact is not sufficient. At this point, students' environmental consciousness cannot be depended on to significantly limit our campus carbon footprint. A large segment of the student population holds an attitude of indifference and displays minimal effort toward achieving a "greener" campus.

I recognize it is not just the students' responsibility to minimize waste and energy usage. However, campus administrators have already implemented several programs and completed renovations toward achieving a more sustainable campus. Some of the sidewalks on the Case quad are now made of porous concrete in order to reduce the need for salt in the wintertime, the dining halls have gone tray-less, and the entire Village complex is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified with a silver rating. As a result, it is the students' turn to implement a concerted effort in reducing their waste profile and energy use.

A viable solution to the indifference reflected by a large percentage of the student population would be a combination of charging 'green fees' and mandatory attendance at a waste and energy minimization course. Students who do not show sensitivity and concern for their environmental impact would surely show concern for their thinning wallet. Computing any sort of green fees would be complicated and will call for a consensus approach. However, the projects which could use the fees are endless. Further research toward implementing alternative energy sources, the purchase of electric cars for the campus, and the undertaking of sustainable renovations of older, less-efficient buildings on campus would greatly benefit from the green fees.

From the outset, the primary objective of the fees would not be to generate revenue. Instead, the fees would serve as an incentive for students to be more conscious of their carbon footprint on campus. Dependant on how much of an impact we wish to make, meters could be installed in all dorm rooms to measure energy use, trash and recycling would be weighed and observed for proper disposal, and the amount of water used in each dorm room would also be measured. Students would be assessed as groups, including all roommates, in order to encourage community living and the understanding that our individual actions do not only affect ourselves but our neighbors as well.

Students cannot be expected to change their lifestyles overnight, nor can they always be aware of the waste minimization practices that are expected of them. Therefore, sustainability-education programs should be required during orientation and at the beginning of each school year. The courses would outline the importance of minimizing waste, show the impact of stringent waste and energy management practices, and demonstrate the impact of resource management, such as the simple act of addressing leaky faucets. The course would provide students with information on the financial and environmental impact their corrected action would generate.

What we are trying to accomplish is a change in lifestyle which would hopefully continue well beyond the limited time spent at CWRU. After all, isn't that one of the reasons to attend a world-class university? We need to develop sound principles and behavior to lead humanity to the next stage of development.

These steps aren't unprecedented - other college campuses, such as Evergreen State College in Washington, have already voted on implementing a mandatory green fee. Check out:
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In This Issue


  • Case EMS 'saves the day' at mass casualty drill
  • Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum to auction $1 million in cars
  • CWRU celebrates Constitution Day
  • Have you heard about women in liberal arts?
  • Reality star's "One-for-One" business model inspires mtvU to seek out "Movers & Shakers"
  • Sigma Nu fire ruled unintentional, sparks housing inspections
  • Speaker continues debate about legal drinking age
  • The new Kindle on campus: CWRU and Amazon partner to test the Kindle DX
  • Can you name this place?


  • Close wins on crooked river
  • Hard work paying off as conference play nears
  • Spartan Spotlight: Mike Vaughn
  • What if Browns were subject to a blackout?

Fun Page

  • Crossword Solution
  • Sudoku Solution


  • Editorial: Doc Oc memorial needs identification, context
  • Genocide rape should be treated as weapon of mass destruction
  • Large debates over drinking age missing the point
  • Legalizing drugs: a practical solution
  • Lifestyle changes for a green campus
  • Observer fails to acknowledge event programmers
  • State your case: What do you do with your favorite textbook?


  • Case Swing Club dances the night away with jazz quartet
  • Finding ways around being broke
  • Hitting the Spot: The Jackie Warren Trio
  • Jolly Scholar hosts weekly live music for CWRU musicians
  • Overheard at Case
  • Phish herald triumphant return with Joy-ful new album
  • Rising alternative hip-hop artist Kid Cudi to headline UPB Fall Concert
  • Shoes: strut your way to comfortable, fashion-forward style
  • The Buzz
  • The latest independent release roundup
  • Zombies take over Lakewood for bi-annual Cleveland Charity Zombie Walk

Cross Country

  • Simpson gets win at Calvin


  • Spartans jump out to 41-0 lead against Yeomen, improve to 3-0

Sex and Dating

  • Handling the aftermath


  • Spartans come out fast, but Lions escape with win
  • Team jelling after slow start

Worst Case Scenario

  • The Worst Case Scenario
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