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Ville unplugs for PASSHE conservation competition

Marianne Caesar
Features Editor

This week marks the second week of Millersville University’s energy conservation campaign, promoting the awareness and reduction of energy consumption and the carbon footprint. A response to MU’s completed climate action plan, ‘Ville Unplugged is one of numerous campaigns aimed at reducing the university’s footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.
“When we looked at [the climate action plan], about 65 percent of our emissions were coming from energy,” said Christopher Steuer, the Sustainability Manager for Millersville University as of December 2016.

MU is participating in PASSHE Unplugged, aimed toward the reduction of the university’s ecological footprint by conserving utilities. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MILLERSVILLE.EDU)
MU is participating in PASSHE Unplugged, aimed toward the reduction of the university’s ecological footprint by conserving utilities. (Photo courtesy of Millersville.edu)

Upon learning of this campaign, other state universities were interested in adopting the campaign, creating the statewide campaign of PASSHE Unplugged which became a friendly competition in energy conservation across school campuses.
Conservation of resources has become a large focus of Millersville University, through the policies put forth by President Anderson as well as the choice selections for One Book One Campus this year. Relating the notion of conservation in young individuals poses an opportunity for actions to be made sooner than later.

“When I think of sustainability, I think of it as a big tent,” noted Steuer. “Sustainability touches on a lot of different issues; things like social justice ways to save money and energy…It’s really broad and students can come at it from whatever angle they want to. We’re trying to change people’s mindset.”

In addition to the many academic disciplines, which can be applied to sustainability, a number of methods have been used to monitor how efficient the university is in its personal consumption through students, faculty and staff.
“When you are focused on trying to reduce energy, usually what you do is start off by conserving energy,” said Steuer. “Then, once you conserve energy to where you can make those buildings as efficient as possible, you look into ways to transition from the energy that you consume from being fossil-based over to renewables.”

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Sustainability has been a big focus for MU this year, seen through the theme for One Book One Campus and various campaigns on campus. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The Center for Sustainability has made efforts into creating a greener campus in several ways. In dealing with the continued construction on campus, implemented upgrades to electrical infrastructure better track energy use between inhabitants and the building themselves. Solar rays on the roof of the Net Zero building on campus will join the use of natural light sensors and motion detection lighting.

“Over the course of the year, it generates as much electricity as it uses, so I think that will be a sort of model where we would like to take construction to make the buildings as green as possible,” said Steuer.

Future projects and campaigns to be held on campus include a water bottle challenge, headed by Dr. Nadine Garner of the Center for Sustainability. Encouraging students to incorporate reusable bottles over plastic bottles, the campaign will adjoin the goal to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions. The center also houses its organic “Ville-age Garden” behind the Huntingdon House and has collaborated with Terracycle to up-cycle items of waste into commercial products.

Regardless of any major, age or geographic location, the ability and need to conserve resources is a global issue and can begin to be resolved through small acts by individuals. As younger generations are increasing energy consumption with the rising wave of technology, there is never a better time to start reflecting on how our actions will impact the future.
“I think you’ll see a lot more of these campaigns,” said Steuer. “We’re just trying to reach out to students and raise awareness about sustainability issues and encourage them to participate in any way they can. There’s a lot of things all of us have to be worried about on a day-to-day basis, but one thing we’re hoping to do with this is to keep it in people’s minds.”

Running until April 11, ‘Ville Unplugged will continue efforts to lower the school’s footprint and increase energy conservation throughout the community. Victors within the state competition are determined by comparing the campus’s baseline consumption to the calculated percentage of electrical reduction.

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