Last updated: August 23. 2013 10:53PM - 37 Views

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BLUFFTON — The recycling bins located around the Bluffton University campus are emptied four days a week, yet some still overflow. Some residence halls requested additional bins for the plastic and aluminum. Who knows how jam-packed the bins might become once the school starts collecting additional recyclable material.“There is a lot of hype about it,” student Andy Lehman said of the new campus-wide program. “On a small campus, I think it works really well because if your neighbor starts doing it, you start to reflect on it. It’s like a chain reaction.”As global warming and environmental concerns flood the airways more than ever, college campuses are taking note. It’s evident in how schools run everyday operations, how they construct buildings and what they teach.Bluffton has made environmental stewardship a high priority and will highlight efforts at Wednesday’s Civic Engagement Day.Students organized a recycling project last spring, leading school officials to appoint a task force to investigate an ongoing project. Lehman, of the task force, said the final program kicked-off last month.Schools in the area all try to recycle paper. OSU-Lima and Rhodes State ships it to be shredded at Marimor Industries and then recycled. The combined campus also does its own composting of grass, trees and leaves, said Dave Dennis, facilities manager.Dennis said crews replace light fixtures incrementally, something all campuses have done. A state House Bill is requiring state schools to develop strategic energy reduction plans.An energy monitoring system has been installed at OSU-Lima/Rhodes, allowing officials to determine the amount of electrical consumption in each building, and sometimes in specific areas.“An important step in improving is being able to measure where you are,” Dennis said.University of Northwestern Ohio officials said the cost of installing new lighting is expected to pay for itself within two years. Three current buildings and two coming in the future contain energy efficient controller systems, saving energy when buildings are not in use.“If it is going to cost us a little more in the long run, we have never shied away from those responsibilities,” said Andy O’Neal, college of technologies dean.A national training center for the National Alternate Fuels Training Consortium, Northwestern provides alternate fuel training. As part of that training, the school has biodiesel and ethanol processing units.“We have the responsibility to really practice what we are teaching,” O’Neal said. “We have not only a fiscal responsibility, but an environmental responsibility. Lead by example.”UNOH hires a company to refurbish discarded anti-freeze and oil, just as Bluffton uses a company to haul away and recycle used cooking oil. It is used to make pet food and biodiesel, said Mustaq Ahmed, director of buildings and grounds.Ahmed said the campus tries to do a number of little things, and has for some time, to positively impact the environment. An automated energy management system is used throughout campus and a thermal underground ice storage system saves energy when cooling buildings. The campus also uses its own well to irrigate athletic fields and recycles motor oil and about 1,600 pounds of cardboard a month.“We do the small things that make a big difference,” Ahmed said. “They are relatively small scale, but every little bit helps.”Building projects too allow school officials to think green. John Green, vice president of fiscal affairs at Ohio Northern University, said the environment is part of campus construction planning.“In just about everything we build here, over the years we have been very, very sensitive to wanting to do the right thing,” he said, adding that technology advancements make it more feasible today.Energy efficient lighting and similar things are standard in new and renovated buildings on campus. The school is in the early planning stages of renovating and building new student housing that will likely include geothermal heating and cooling.The school installed a combination wind generator and solar panel system on the roof of Taft Memorial Building. The system can power an electric load, and charge a battery bank that can power a load when the sun is behind clouds and the wind is not blowing. A 2007 graduate designed it.ONU is also moving toward electrical vehicles. The mailroom has one and two more are at the physical plant. Green said more will be added this summer. While it is a ways off, the school would like to look at harnessing the strong wind velocity found north of Ada.Schools also bring the environment into classrooms. Northwestern heating and ventilation students learn about geothermal. Courses on global climate change are offered at Bluffton.Bluffton will highlight the year’s emphasis on the environment Wednesday, with officials hoping the community will join in. Professor Cindy Bandish, chairwoman of the engagement day, said it will include displays and presentations of student projects, as well as presentations from faculty.Topics include non-fossil fuel energy sources, bio-fuels, and economic solutions to environmental issues. A concert featuring the sounds of animals will begin at 7 p.m. in Yoder Recital Hall. For a complete list of activities, go to www.bluffton.edu.Lehman says it’s not hard to get students on board with recycling and other environmental projects. It’s a topic that comes at students from all angles, he said. It’s important for him to be on a campus that cares about the environment.“Since Bluffton is a Christian school, we need to implement what that means on our campus,” he said. “We need to walk the walk not just talk the talk. We need to take care of God’s creation.”

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